Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Memories of Philly (Vince Dantona, 1949-2012)

Vince Dantona, comedian, master ventriloquist, Vietnam veteran, loving father, all around sweet human being, and one-half of the team of Vince Dantona and his buddy George, passed away suddenly, early today. If you knew Vince, I don’t need to tell you how great a loss this is to comedy, and to those who could call him friend.

Although Vince was a Long Island act, he, like many others had very strong ties to the Philadelphia comedy scene, which is where I first met him.

In the 1980s and 90s, Philly was a haven for us. There was so much work in the areas between Philly and Harrisburg that a comic could very easily book six months of his or her year without ever leaving the area. The money was pretty good as I recall, and it was possible to make a fairly decent living if you were willing to drive all over the state. 

Center City boasted three major clubs; The Comedy Factory Outlet, The Comedy Works (above the Middle East Restaurant) and Going Bananas, a little club just off South Street, which was run by the unforgettable Barney Weiss, a character so memorable he could have been plucked from any Damon Runyon story.

Of the big three, Barney’s club was the smallest, and you took the gig, not for the money, which paled in comparison to what we could make at the other places, but because it was Barney and we all loved him.

Barney would give up-and-coming comics a chance to move up the ranks where the others would not. I was one of them. He was the first booker in a major city to headline me, and opened the door for me to the Comedy Works, which would not hire me previously, mostly because I was working across the street at the CFO, their chief rival.

What made Going Bananas so memorable for us was this weird bohemian energy that it generated. And it was all due to Barney. Where the other two clubs played loud rock music before and after the shows, Bananas was cool with its classic jazz. Where the others put us up in a nice downtown hotel, Barney made us stay in his apartment above the club.

The apartment looked best at night, which isn’t saying much because even after the sun had set, it still looked like shit. But it really didn’t matter what it looked like in the daytime, because comedians don’t see much of the day. Back then, our eight a.m. was two o’clock in the afternoon. Besides, nothing fun ever happens while the sun is out.

In the glory days, you usually did three shows on a Saturday night, sold out the first two and had a decent crowd for the third. Despite what civilians may think, being funny for that long is exhausting work. And so by the time we finished the last show, usually about twelve-thirty, all we wanted to do was unwind and come off the adrenaline high of having finished three killer shows. And inevitably, we wound up at Barney’s apartment, drifting in either solo or with the other comics on the show. That’s when the fun began.

Try to imagine seven or eight comedians in a very tiny room, pumped up from a good night’s work, all partying, sometimes till four or five in the morning. Then after hours of laughter, the party would make its way around the corner to the diner for breakfast for another hour or so, until we were spent. It was a magical time.

Barney had his favorite comics, and Vince was one of them. These two were such good friends that Barney eventually named the headliner’s bedroom, the “Vince Dantona Suite” and he went so far as to put a plaque on the door officially designating it as such.

I don’t think I ever met a comic who ever said an unkind thing about Vince. You know, headliners can be assholes sometimes, but not Vince. And then of course there was his partner, George.

Ventriloquists are by nature, a little different than the rest of us. Think about what they do for a second. During the course of their act, they have to think as two completely different people.  And so what happens is that they begin to anthropomorphize their puppets, to the point where you find yourself thinking of this lifeless thing as human. And the really good ones, like Vince, treat them as such.

An old friend of mine reminded me of something today that I had long forgotten. At Barney’s place, in the Dantona Suite, Vince would place his shoes on the floor, and right next to them, you’d see George’s tiny shoes. To Vince, really, to all of us, George was as real as anyone, and that is a testament to his talent. Today, as I heard the news of Vince’s death, I couldn’t help feeling sad for George too, because I know he will never utter another word.

The word magical comes up often in my writing when I wax melancholy about those days. It is difficult to describe to anyone who wasn’t there what that time was like, but there really isn’t a better word to describe it. 
I sometimes I wonder if I spend too much time thinking about the glory days of comedy. We were all young and part of something very special back then; and though we didn’t know it at the time, all of us involved were making history in our own little way. Most of us were unknown to the general public and some went on to great heights. But fame is no criteria for quality; it is just the result of fortunate happenstance. Some of us were hacks, some were so-so, and some were great. But each person who ever set foot on a stage in those years contributed a brick to the iconic background on stages all across the world. Stand-up is an American art form, and we were there at the beginning to contribute to its birth.

Speaking with a close friend before, we couldn’t help but tearily suggest that perhaps Vince’s passing was a harbinger of sorts; a reminder that our time here is beginning to wind down and that the ranks which made up our generation of comedians will soon begin to fade away. To the public who knew us, we might rate a nod of respect at our passing, but that is about it. Even the very famous soon fade from the immediate memory upon their death. I guess that’s how Nature protects us from long enduring pain.

In time, the sadness over losing Vince will subside, like it did when the great Ronnie Shakes left the world too soon, or more recently, in the case of the Richard Jenni’s departure. But whenever comics get together, the memories of the time we spent with them will eventually rise, and their names will be mentioned with reverence, respect, and love.

And so I’d like to suggest that sometime soon, if you have someone in your life that means an awful lot to you, that you tell them so. Tell them that you love them. You might not get another chance.

Rest in peace Vince, and know you were loved.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Importance Of Being Honest

“Either this wallpaper goes, or I do.”- Allegedly the last words of Oscar Wilde.

True or not, this has always been one of my favorite quotes, and I can certainly imagine Mr. Wilde uttering it as he drew his final breaths. Old Oscar never had a problem thumbing his nose at the stodgy conventions and hypocrisy that was Victorian England, and if ever a person knew how to carpe diem, it was him.

Artists are like that, you know. There’s something inside them that just refuses to cooperate with the standard operating procedures by which the majority of the world lives. But if there is a blind spot in the psyche of the artist, it is in his or her inability to suppress the truths that lie within them. They simply cannot hold it back.

Oh, it’s not from lack of trying. Anyone who has the blessing (and the curse) of the artist’s soul can tell you to the number the amount of day gigs they’ve had in an attempt to ‘fit in’. Wilde himself was married, sired two children and took a job as an editor of Woman’s World Magazine for two years, while at the same time carrying on an affair with the love of his life, Lord Alfred Douglas, whose nickname was “Bosie”. Of course Constance Lloyd Wilde, Oscar’s wife, found this an impossible situation and the couple divorced in 1893, leaving Wild and Bosie free to be together.

Naturally, his openly gay lifestyle did not play well in Victorian England. He was eventually arrested for “gross indecency”, which resulted in a two year prison term at hard labor. He died destitute in Paris, but it appears he did it on his own terms. The lesson here is that if you are going to live la Vida Wilde, you’d better be willing to accept the consequences of doing so.

History is rife with those, like Oscar, who have said why not?-and as a result, have changed the world. But I’m sure there are far more unknown examples of those who have said the same thing and exited planet Earth with unfinished dreams and ideas that plunged them into madness, like Vincent van Gogh for instance. Did you know that he never sold a painting during his lifetime?

Surviving life can be a difficult thing sometimes, can’t it? Now I know that sounds a bit oxymoronic, because in the end, no one survives life, but it’s that period between the moment you come flying out of Mom and flat-lining the heart monitor to which I refer.

To my mind though, since you don’t have a choice about shuffling off this mortal coil anyway, you might as well enjoy it while you’re here.

Look, sometimes the lease you get on life is great and wonderful for the run of the contract, and sometimes you end up destitute in Paris. That’s just the way it is. Usually, there’s a little of both sprinkled across your time here. It seasons you, sometimes saltier, sometimes sweeter, and often with red hot pepper. But that’s just it; you never know. And it’s the hope that it will get better that keeps us off of the bell tower with the high powered rifle. It’s knowing that somewhere down the line, something good will happen to offset those days of abject misery. So, why not just hold on and ride the wild stallion at top speed across the plains, instead of galumphing down a county park bike path on a swaybacked old horse, whose only goal is to get back to the corral in time for lunch?

I can’t tell you how many days I’ve awakened recently, rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, and said to no one in the bedroom, “Oh shit, I’m still here?” when all I really want is to assume the fetal position, pull the quilt over my head and drift off to painless sleep forever. It’s not that I’m totally depressed and suicidal; it’s just that I’m so tired of having to continually prove my respectability to those around me. I know that many of my friends look at me and sometimes think, “When IS she going to get her act together?”

And then, I have a day like last Wednesday, which was simply magical.

As you may or may not know, last week I premiered something called “Julia Scotti’s Comedy Test Kitchen” at the Dark Horse Pub in Philadelphia. It is an experimental kind of show with music, singing, and of course, comedy. My core belief in this thing is that if you take professional artists, who love what they do, and turn them loose in the most creative environment possible, they will rise to the occasion and create something special onstage. Suffice to say, I was not disappointed and neither was the audience.

We’re in a tiny room upstairs at the Dark Horse that seats about fifty to eighty people, tops. We have no budget, no props, horrible lighting and sound, and little or no rehearsal time. The players get a meager stipend for their efforts; maybe just enough to cover gas, parking with a little left over for a burger. Yet last week, this group, which included Comedians Chris Rich, Regina Baker and Justin Gonzalez, our piano virtuoso and arranger Marty Krzywanos and I managed to put together a two hour variety show that somehow lifted the audience and us to a place that we hadn’t known before. I know that  the cast, including grizzled old me, has been flying all week-so much so, that it wasn’t until today that I could begin to put it down in writing. Ever since the show, I’ve been asking myself over and over; what happened there and why? And for that I have to go back to Oscar for an explanation.

Wilde and his contemporaries were believers in the school of aestheticism, ‘art for art’s sake’. The backbone of what they did was to create, not for moral or symbolic purposes, but rather to have art just be. Our little troupe of players approached the show in the same way. All we wanted was to provide an environment in which our imaginations could run wild; one that was free of the demands that our professional shows ask of us and just do it for us because it made us laugh. We wanted to deliver a presentation in which we didn’t have to bow to agents or club owners’ whims, who generally don’t know quality, and who always consider the money first. For us, instinct, coupled with a firm belief that the audience would take the ride with us, was the gas that powered the show. For once, the performers were in charge, and we rocked the house for two solid hours.   

Even the audience got involved! Toward the end of the show, we did a faith healing sketch which called for the cast to line up and be healed by me, the minister. Several members of the audience were so comfortable that they got up, came to the ‘healing place’ and knelt down with the others, like extras in a play! It was so unbelievable that after the show, when the cast met in the back room, we were beside ourselves!

I don’t know where this show is going or what its future is. But I am firmly convinced that we got off on the right footing, with the proper attitude. Performers need to fail, fall and conquer in order to get to the wondrous place onstage and thus, set the bar higher for the next time. We did all of those things last Wednesday night. And we will do it again this Wednesday when some new cast members join us. Whatever is going on up there at the Dark Horse Pub, it is very special. And I can’t but help think that all of us involved are going to be changed by it in a very positive way.

So thanks to the cast, to the Muse, Van Gogh, to Oscar Wilde and all the others who have dared to step out of line a bit over the centuries. And now, either this blog goes or I do. I think it will be me.

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat! Abbondanza!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Opening Act

“It’s started.” That’s what my friend Nick said to me a couple of weeks ago, when I began to tell him of the positive reactions I’d been getting from the comedy community lately. He was referring to some lofty vision he has of my meteoric rise in comedy, after only thirty years in the business and gender reassignment surgery. All I was saying was that I was surprised at the audiences’ reaction and my fellow comics to my newly written act.

Nick Cosentino has always had more belief in my ability as a writer and comedian than I ever had. And since I was the queen of low self-esteem, his compliments always embarrassed me a little. They still do. But deep down inside of me, there was a little part of me that believed him. And lately, I can feel myself beginning to accept his opinion just a little bit more. This re-entry into a world that I love has been a wonderful personal victory, because it means that I am beginning to shake off even more of the awful weights of a lifetime of self-doubt that were brought on by a confluence of horrible childhood memories and experiences. Though some of the major ones still plague me, I can feel myself being freer to just be almost daily.

It seems stupid doesn’t it? I’m going to be sixty years old in a few months, and I still react reflexively when I get even a modicum of success. It is an issue that has plagued me for my entire life. Over a lifetime of self-talk, I have managed to build this unscalable wall for myself, making it higher each time I came close to personal fulfillment and success. Now, perhaps for the first time in my life I feel that I am undoing that wall one painful brick at a time, and I can see the pinpoint of daylight from the other side. Soon it will flood my life with the good, clean, positive energy that builds and doesn’t destroy.

Love is what it really is, you know. The purest thing in the universe is love, both of self and of others. It is a stunningly simple thing, yet the most difficult to achieve because of its simplicity. The act of loving, particularly of oneself, requires surrender to the foolish notion that one can control his or her life, or anyone else’s for that matter. To try to do so can only ever end with an unfinished protective wall of frustration and sadness. Whereas a life of love, of making the most of and appreciating every single moment without a single expectation? Ah, that’s the stuff, right there! Because when you begin to love yourself like that, you learn the value in loving others. Love produces only more of the same.

This really wasn’t the topic I had planned to write about tonight, but I guess it is fitting in light of what’s going on in my life these days. I would particularly like to relate an incident that happened earlier this evening.

I have a very dear friend who did a very wonderful thing tonight. As you may know, tomorrow I am beginning a weekly show at a club in Philadelphia called the Dark Horse Pub. It is the realization of a dream I’ve had for many years, because it brings together nearly all of the performing arts in a single show, and at the same time encourages performers to step out of the discipline that the ‘gig’ demands (after all we do work for money), and allows them to stretch their creative wings.

My friend knew that I needed a piece of equipment for the show, which I could not afford at the moment. Selflessly and lovingly, she purchased it and presented it to me. Now in the past, I would have been resentful of such an act, deeming it an insult to my pride. But instead, I accepted her act of love, with love, and can now hold this experience in my heart as precious instead of letting it fester and grow resentment inside me as it would have done in the past.

This isn’t an isolated incident either. Since I have come out and begun to live a truthful, loving life eleven years ago, I have found that the acts of love given to me and those which I gave in return far outweigh the hatred I have felt from those who cannot understand who I am. I am truly blessed, and it took my return to comedy to finally see and understand the extent of it.

With three very notable exceptions, I probably love the art of comedy more than anything else in my life. I view it as a medium to speak in the ways composers painters and actors cannot; with only words as tools. I see it as a way to make sense of our tragedies, frustrations and to lift us from our sadness and release us from its bondage; comedy reminds us all that in the end we put far too much emphasis on the trials of this life. It is, for lack of a better word, my religion.

Each day and subsequent year that I was away from it, I realized more and more how much I missed it. And now that I’m here again, I feel at home. To be among creative, funny people, with all their neuroses and foibles, is an experience I don’t think I will ever give up again. These people, who often work for very little money, if any, think nothing of putting their egos on the line every night they are onstage. They are remarkably courageous, giving folks, both to their audiences and to their peers.

Comedians know how special the job that they do is. We see it every time we stand on stage and look at you, the audience. To make someone laugh, sometimes to tears of joy, is prayer of the highest magnitude, in my opinion. There is no sin to forgive in this church (unless you steal material!), only love. There is no guilt either. To laugh is the closest one ever gets to God in this mortal life.

It isn’t all about the applause and laughter, although that is a large part of it. It’s also about the connection that a room full of strangers can make with one another. It’s this cosmic marriage that unites everyone in the room, including the comic. It is when we drop our pretenses, acknowledge our weaknesses and for a moment, laugh at them and thus ourselves, without fear of social chastisement. It is a form of love. And as a transgendered person living in a world that often reviles us, I have found in comedy, friends old and new who have welcomed me back, who have helped me find work and who, like Nick and several others, have helped me to realize that I was the one who imposed exile upon myself, not the business. And while the strangeness of my new persona might have knocked several of my older comic friends off their gyros, it hasn’t taken long for them to see that I am still the same person I always was. As they say, funny is funny.

So tomorrow, regardless of the outcome of the show, it is already a success for me. In my few short months back in the business, bricks have fallen from my wall in a way that would rival Joshua at Jericho. I have hopes for the success of this show, but no expectations because to have them would put limits on me. The people with whom I am working with are wildly talented and that is reward enough. It is a joy to watch them create and to love what they do. How this all turns out is not important. What is important is the realization that it has indeed, “started”.

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat! Abbondanza!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tweets, Twits, and Toots.

I love to look at my Twitter account to see how many ‘followers’ I have. Right now it’s at 56, which ranks me somewhere between @Lenny the Exciting Accountant1 and @Excrucia the Skunk Whisperer. I did have more, but they were of the spammy, porno type and so I blocked them.

It’s amazing how many sexual references one can make in 140 characters. My all time favorite thus far has to be someone who calls herself Rayna Heimer, which sounds like it should be a car part or an ex-Nazi war criminal. Her most creative tweet was, “I think my vagina is a bit different from a cereal box.” Well I should hope so! I’ve seen a lot of vaginas in my time, and though one or two of them bore an uncanny resemblance to Abraham Lincoln, I have never seen one in the shape of a cereal box! I mean, what kind of demented person would have sex with their Rice Krispies? And how are they doing that?

I have not blocked Rayna yet, because anyone who can be that creative in 140 characters deserves to be read some more. The kid’s got real talent, albeit with some genuine body image issues.

I do wish, however, that Twitter had come up for a better name than ‘followers’ for its participants. It makes them sound kind of creepy, you know? Like we all belong to some brainwashing cult and who will inevitably become like the Symbionese Liberation Army. Remember them? That’s the group that kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst back in 1974. After months of captivity, she had changed her name to Tonia, and her wardrobe to para- military, except for the cute beret she wore during bank robberies (a disguise no doubt!)

All of which begs the questions; will the “Lenny-istas” of the world begin a treasonous and seditious accounting revolution and suddenly start to unbalance people’s books? And will skunks no longer be content to stink up the car for days after we run them over on I-95, or will they band together and force us to our collective knees with one long, large, and protracted spray? So, in an effort to de-creepify the term ‘follower’, I am proposing that we change the term to something less intimidating, like ‘text sprites’. Isn’t that more pleasant?

Minor griping aside, the value of tweeting is in its ability to let the world know what you’re doing in the blink of an eye, and it is very, very cool... most of the time. There are those, for instance, who should NEVER EVER BE LET NEAR A KEYBOARD AGAIN. You know who I mean, @meet my intestines and @raw slug eater. We don’t need that kind of nonsense greeting us over breakfast. I almost choked on my fried chicken livers and eggs this morning, for God’s sake!

But if you have something legitimate to plug, there is no better way to get it ‘out there’ than this little bird symbol. Why, in order to reach the same amount of people that one reaches with just a single tweet, you would have to stand on a different street corner every three seconds for 6, 575, 352 years and shout your message at the top of your lungs! And I’m pretty sure that most of your followers would either be dead by then, or at the very least, have grown tired of hearing you yell the same thing over and over.

Think of how different history might have been had Twitter been around. Jesus, for instance, would have had no problem gathering disciples. One tweet from St. Peter that read, @Pete the Rock #dudes, He walked on water! Get down here now! Trust me, He would have had so many followers that no politician in his right mind would have messed with him. And instead of a Last Supper, that meal would have become known as the Annual Awards Banquet (“and the winner of Disciple of the Year is...Judas Iscariot!).

What if Paul Revere had the ability to tweet that the British were coming?  @PaulyR #can’t sleep, light from damned church tower keeping me up! How about Amelia Earhart? @flygirl1 #wow am I glad this trip is almost ov...

It goes without saying that Tweeting has changed the course of today’s modern world. However, I will say it anyway; Tweeting has changed the course of today’s modern world.  Historians will have to mention that the recent Arab Spring, which has seen the overthrow of despotic dictators and bears no relationship whatsoever to the Irish Spring, which is a soap that leaves your whole body smelling fresh as an Irish morning, could not have happened without Twitter. So for those of you planning a revolution, please be sure to shower frequently, and keep your cell phone and internet bills paid up to date. You don’t want to be in the middle of toppling a statue of the Great Brother in the middle of Aflaq Square and find yourself unable to call for backup. The Great Brother’s elite security forces tend to frown on that sort of thing, and the next thing you know, they have you tied up in some warehouse, trying to jump start your testicles with a Sears Die-Hard battery, or worse, forcing you to have sex with a box of Cap’n Crunch! So let’s be careful out there people.

Now that you know the value that Twitter, Tweets and Rayna Heimer (who I call Toots) bring to your life, let me get to the real reason for this essay. It’s a little something I like to call

The Shameless Use of a Public Forum to Plug a Personal Appearance!!!

This coming Wednesday (February 22, 8-10 pm), I am premiering Julia Scotti’s Comedy Test Kitchen, a weekly cabaret-type show at the Dark Horse Pub, 421 South 2nd Street, in Philadelphia, Pa, which as we all know is the coolest city on the East Coast. I expect you all to be there.

What excites me about the Comedy Test Kitchen is that the concept is very reminiscent of the early New York clubs in which I cut my show business teeth. I’m hoping that performers from all over the area will stop by and try new material or just hang out. For those of you who live in other parts of the country or world, we have this little invention now called the airplane, which will take you from one place to another very quickly. Quit your job, cash in the 401k and buy a ticket to Philadelphia today! The Comedy Test Kitchen’s very survival depends on it!

*AUTHOR’S NOTE; I don’t really expect you do quit your job, or cash in the retirement account. That would be insane! So don’t do that. Really. I mean it, dammit! But if you happen to be in town that day, it’s a nice night out. Bring your boss or significant other. Hell, bring Reyna Heimer, as I have a lot of questions for her. 

We’ve got a great, talented, ensemble cast of musicians, singers and comedians already lined up and I can promise you that if you like improvisational comedy and music, this is the place to come. If you are a newbie and want to step on a stage for the first time as a singer, musician, or comic, come check us out.     

There you have it reader; a perfectly fine essay destroyed by a blog commercial (Blogmercial) for a nightclub act. Do you see how easily you can be led down the primrose path to sedition, my little text sprites? You’re mine I tell you...ALL MINE!!!! (Insert evil, villainess cackle here)

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat! Abbondanza!


Friday, February 17, 2012

Id's Night Out.

I think I might be reaching the age where I am cognizant of the fact that I may be losing my marbles, but haven’t lost enough of them yet to be unappreciative of the beauty of insanity. There is a wonderful freedom in letting your mind run free and allowing it to play with all the other caged up thoughts in your head.

Case in point; through most of today, I have found my thoughts drifting to Mister Peanut, the iconic spokesperson for Planter’s Nuts. For those of you overseas who read this blog and aren’t familiar with Mister ‘P’, he is a dapper sort of peanut in a shell, with a big, friendly smile like my Uncle Tootie used to have whenever he was making homemade sausage. I don’t think anything made good ole Uncle ‘T’ happier than when he was shoving ground up pig parts into a sausage casing. Not even Aunt Chickie made him that happy, which is why their marriage didn’t last. Uncle ‘T’s sausage habit may also be the reason Aunt Chickie disappeared mysteriously shortly before their annual Labor Day Barbeque, though it was never proven.    

 Unlike my Uncle Tootie however, Mister Peanut wears a top hat, which he always appears to be about to doff (to a beautiful lady no doubt.), a monocle (how cool is that?), white gloves and spats. He carries a walking stick in his left hand and seems to be wearing an all black jumpsuit under his shell. In short, he looks like the peanut version of Fred Astaire. “Heaven...I’m in heaven... and my heart beats so that I can hardly speak...” 

All day, I’ve imagined him in any number of professions, such as a bus driver, an accountant, Congressnut, and yes, even my gynecologist. Of course, I also imagined that I was able to afford health insurance so that I actually could see a gynecologist in reality before I die. But for now, I’ll have to do with the gentle hands and warmed instruments, as Dr. Peanut tells me to “scooch down” a little in his creamy-smooth peanut butter voice.

It’s not like I have a crush on him, for God’s sake. He’s a peanut! And he isn’t even real!
But ya know what? I wouldn’t mind keeping company with him in my home. I think he’d be good for me, actually, because ever since my cat Booger passed away a few weeks ago, I seem to be talking more and more to my appliances and that can’t be good. To be honest, it has been suggested to me on more than one occasion by various friends and mental health professionals that perhaps it might be time to replace her. What better substitute for loneliness than a three foot plastic statuette/lamp of this superstar legume! It’s just what the team of doctors ordered! There is no commitment, I don’t have to worry about him dying, and he’s a great listener. Take that, Dr. Thorazine!

 By the way, the peanut is not really a nut; it is actually a bean. So, by rights he should be referred to as Mister Peabean, or since he is French, Monsieur Pois Bean.

Oh I can see it now! A cold, snowy night; the wind howls outside, while the soft strains of the latest John Tesh CD are playing on the Bose Wave radio. There’s a roaring fire in the wood burning stove in the rumpus room of my palatial estate and it’s casting a soft, undulating orange glow all over the room.  I am wrapped  all snugly cozy in my souvenir of Niagara Falls afghan. I don’t care  what’s going on in the world, because I know that all will be right at that moment. And as I glance up toward the bar, there,  just below the zebra skin wall hanging sits Mister Peanut, or as I like to call him, Joey. He’s smiling that silly little smile of his, and he is ever ready to tip his top hat to me. Such a gentleman! No, they just don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

“Joey”, I’d start out softly, “it says here in this article by Janice Wood that antidepressant use has increased over 400 percent in the last twenty years. What makes it even scarier is that 11 percent of us over the age of 12 take them. What’s wrong with us anyway? What are we so depressed about? Joey? Hon? I’m waiting...

You’re awfully quiet tonight, aren’t you? Is everything okay? Rough day at work? Wait; did I do something to upset you? No? Oh good. Well then, you just sit up there and listen, okay?

You know, it just seems to me that something very odd is happening to Americans. We never used to seem depressed in the past, but now... well now I could name you five people in my immediate circle of friends who are on these things. And it really bothers me. What’s that? What do I think the problem is? Aww...You’re so sweet. I love that you want to hear my opinions. Okay, I’ll tell you what I think is going on.

First of all, no one talks to anyone anymore. It used to be that you could walk outside and be in a neighborhood. Everybody knew each other, and for the most part, looked out for each other, being especially watchful over the neighborhood kids. Now, God forbid, if you yell at someone else’s kid for tying your dachshund in knots, the next thing you know, some nut is doing a drive-by past your house, BAM! Well your family can just cancel your newspaper subscription right there and then... or wait until the next day to clip the story out of the paper.

Second, everyone is forced to hold their anger in these days. It used to be, if you got mad at someone, you told them right to THEIR STINKIN’ FACES and BAM! It was over just like that. The next day, everything was fine again. No wonder people are depressed. Holding all that junk inside is like being constipated; it just makes you all grumpy and depressed. Yelling a little once in a while is like Ex-Lax for the soul, right Joey?  I thought you’d agree with that one.     

All these pills! My goodness! It’s like that song from 1969 by Zager and does it go again? Oh yes...”
In the year 3535, ain’t gonna need to tell the truth
Tell no lies
Anything you think, do, or say
Is in the pill that you took to day

“What Mister P, you love my singing? Aww. But you see my point, right? All these drugs change your brain. And they were singing about the year 3535. That’s another 1523 years from now! Imagine what people will be like then? We’ll all have frozen pupils and won’t be able to blink or cry. God I hope I’m not around to see that!

I think that most depression comes from lonlieness, don’t you? I mean, I get sad just thinking about the people in the world that have no one to talk with, or sleep next to, or just love. When you can’t pick up the phone and call the ones you love, boy, that is just enough to drive you so deep that you might never come back, you know, Joey? I’m glad I don’t have that problem.

Oh, you’re getting sleepy and you want me to turn off the lamp in your stomach? Sure.

There ya go. Is that better? Good. You sleep now, and we’ll talk some more in the morning. What’s that? Did the kids call today? No, not today. How long has it been? Let’s see... well, it’s been over ten years now. Yes, I miss them too...more than you can ever imagine... but it is what it is, ya know Joe? People tell me that one day they may reach out to me, but I don’t think so. It’s okay, really, because they are happy and healthy, and that’s really all that matters, isn’t it? Still... hope springs eternal, doesn’t it?

Whew, that just jinked me all up inside. Who knows, maybe I’ll get a call or an email tomorrow.

Anyway, I ‘m all wired from this conversation. I think I’ll just take a sleeping pill and try to rest. Good night, my little nut.”

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat! Abbondanza!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Defrosting A Wooly Mammoth

So I’m browsing the Internet tonight trying to find out where pistachio nuts come from and why they aren’t red anymore. Now I’m well aware that simply by stating this to you, the general public, I’m perhaps giving you the impression that my spending Valentine’s Day night alone in front of a computer, researching pistachio nuts, is a pretty good indicator that I’m, oh, I don’t know, am say, one or two steps away from jumping into the bathtub with an electric fan for company. But believe me, I’m okay. Not great; but okay, alright? I don’t want to talk about it... really. Seriously, don’t get me started about why I’m alone on Valentine’s Day and not being wooed with chocolate and an expensive meal, to be followed by a night of frolicking in the Jungle Room at the Garden of Eden Motel. Honest to God, I don’t really want to talk about it because if I do, I’m only going to take a ball peen hammer to this friggin computer, and then run it over with my car several dozen times until the memory of her cancelling the plans I made in December at the last minute is crushed like ...well like a pistachio nut. But I’ll save that story for another time. God, you people are persistent.

 Anyway...  I’m researching the Great Pistachio mystery, and accidentally typed Wooly Mammoth in the search box instead. I know, right? And even though thirty-seven Jack Daniels Jell-O shots can do crazy things to one’s fine motor skills, inebriation can sometimes lead to a serendipitous moment, and this was one of them. You see, it turns out that both the Wooly Mammoth and pistachio nuts have been around the planet for around the same time; as long as 10,000 years ago! Wowee! Jiggle on over here Jell-O Jack, mama wants more research!!

To the inquisitive mind one question immediately springs up. Why did the mammoth become extinct while the pistachio went on to become a popular snack and the perfect coating for baked Chilean Sea Bass?

Well to begin with, it is insanely difficult to bread a tasty fish like Chilean Sea Bass with a Wooly Mammoth since they were hairy and most likely would kill you if you tried to dip one in egg. Whereas, the pistachio, cute as a little green button, could simply be plucked from a tree. Why, it even opens its shell a little, as if to give itself up to please the sophisticated palate of the average Chilean Sea Bass consumer. The bottom line? The pistachio is the more social of the two. It knew how to network itself among the population of Middle East people from whence it originated. This is where the term Social Networking comes from. 

As for the Wooly Mammoth, they went extinct quite a while ago, having failed to master the art of Social Networking. In fact, way back in July of 2007, a nearly perfectly preserved, four month-old Wooly Mammoth pup was found beneath the ice of Siberia. Siberia? Really? Do you know what kind of wireless coverage is up in that God-forsaken, former Commie ‘rehabilitation’ zone? None! No wonder the Wooly Mammoth went extinct! It could have dialed 911 until it was blue in the face (hypothermia eventually caused it to become blue in the face), and nothing would have happened. But that’s what you get when you don’t keep up with technology and you tend to be a bit of an isolationist.

You know, it just occurred to me that Siberia would have been a perfect place for them to send Charlie Sheen after his meltdown last year. But then he would have become extinct. Oh wait, he is. Another Jell-O shot please!    

What, you may ask, does the pistachio nut, Wooly Mammoth and Charlie Sheen have to do with my comedy career? Social networking, Dammit! It’s friggin awesome!

 Six months ago, the very term was enough to send chills down my poor old arthritic spine. But then, I hadn’t yet decided to go back to comedy. Content to be a miserable, griping, old pain in the ass to everyone I met, I had no desire to be social, much like Charlie Sheen and the Wooly Mammoth. The only people I knew who ‘networked’ were the high-test type ‘A’ personalities who tried to sell me everything from aluminum siding to Z-bars. Every time I heard the word tweet I wanted to bitch slap the person and say, “Hey, is this what Alexander Graham Bell spilled acid all over his leg for?” (Watson, come in here! I need another Jell-O-shot!). All of that has changed since I’ve gotten back into comedy. I have been transformed and converted from a frozen, hairy, lifeless, pachyderm to a chirpy, adorable nut.

I don’t mind telling you that it wasn’t an easy transition either. But thanks to good, caring friends like the folks at Shecky Magazine, and my dear friend Glad, or as I refer to her,‘G-woman’ (she is a marketing genius), I too have joined the bazillions who have discovered the joys of spending most of my waking days staring at a computer screen and wondering who has ‘friended’ me, tweeted me, or is ‘following’ me (They like me...they really like me!).

From a business standpoint, marketing oneself online versus the old fashioned way (circa 1985) is the equivalent of going from a steam-powered automobile to the Starship Enterprise. Gone are the days when a comedian would have to rent a U-Haul trailer to bring hundreds of VCR demo tapes to the post office to mail to clubs and bookers. Gone too, is the expenditure of thousands in 8x10 glossies, resumes, and postage to those very same bookers. And finally, gone is the sinking feeling that comics got from knowing that all this money spent was futile, because your ‘press package’ would eventually only wind up propping up the wobbly leg of some agent’s desk instead of being viewed. Today’s comedians only need to load a video onto You Tube, start a blog, send a Tweet, upload a photo or contact a booker on Facebook You’re still ignored, but at least it didn’t cost you anything, and the son-of-a-bitchin’ booker will have to find something else to prop up his desk. These damned kids don’t know how good they’ve got it!

The results have been remarkable. As I get more adept at being a pistachio, I have been able to accomplish in six months what would have probably taken me at least two years to do, thanks to Social Media. This blog has enabled me to spread my neuroses to remote places like Russia (not Siberia, though, still rotten coverage there), England, Finland and Cincinnati.

So maybe this wasn’t such a bad Valentine’s Day after all. Maybe the Universe wanted me to reflect on all the good stuff that’s happened in the past six months, and to contemplate on all the good things yet to come. And maybe, next Valentine’s Day, I will find myself in a leopard loincloth in the Jungle Room at the Garden of Eden Motel with my significant other, assuming she comes out of the coma. The one thing I do know for sure is that I am enjoying being a pistachio way more than I ever did being a Wooly Mammoth. Pass the Chilean Sea Bass please!

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat! Abbondanza! 



Sunday, February 12, 2012

Little Victories

It’s Sunday morning at around ten-thirty. I slept in today because I did two shows last night, and the adrenalin rush from performing didn’t subside until around 4 am.

I’ve had my two cups of steaming black coffee, the fog in my brain is slowly lifting, and I want to get these thoughts down while the memory of last night is still fresh in my head.

The Plato quote seemed fitting for today, given that this past week has seen a couple of these victories over self for me personally, and a tragic example of defeat by self in the case of Whitney Houston. While the two seem to be unrelated on the surface, I wish to examine both because last night, in what was a truly life altering moment, the news of her death swept through the audience in the middle of what was arguably the best show I’ve had since coming back, thanks to the miracle of smart phones.

There is a back story here as well that I’d like to bring into the mix because one of the events of the previous few days could have easily played a part in ruining an otherwise stellar week. Let me bring you up to date.

Back in the days when I used to travel with the other tribe, I was always working as a standup, be it in New York City or on the road. Those were halcyon moments; work was plentiful and most times I could get it with a few phone calls if I had the occasional last minute fallout of a gig. I worked with a number of agents and bookers and my relationship with them was pretty good.

There was one, however, who had a reputation for continually promising work to comics, not returning phone calls, and for putting comics in rooms that were extremely far from home and paying very little money. Despite all of this, I liked him personally because I always felt that his biggest issue was not in being a heartless bastard by playing with comics’ heads (which are fragile to begin with), but that he was just so disorganized and couldn’t keep track of the promises he made. I considered him a friend back then and still did up until earlier this week.

When I decided to re-enter the world of stand-up, I knew that I would have to depend on bookers from my past to at least get started up. Many of them are gone now (out of the business or dead), but there were still a few around, and I looked to them as a source for rebuilding. I hoped that our friendship would make the journey a little easier by opening some doors to stage time.

Most of them did, and I understood that I was now an unfamiliar quantity; someone they had known, but who had undergone a change so drastic that there was little likelihood of her being able to regain her previous stature onstage. Add into their trepidation my age (bookers love young, hip, upcoming people), and I certainly can appreciate why they might be hesitant to ‘give me a look’. The booker mentioned earlier was one of those people.

I have been calling him about twice a week, for the last month, and always with the same result: Either his assistant would tell me that he was busy (which I understood) and that he would call me back (which he never did), or that he had “stepped out for a second”, even though I could hear him speaking on the phone in the background.

As I listened to the blathering of said assistant, I had at that instant, an explosive moment of satori, a Buddhist term for clarity and understanding. Suddenly, I understood all the times my friend Nick had told me that I didn’t need those people to be successful. I didn’t need the $75 gig in Roanoke, Virginia, where I would be opening for Schlomo, the Mexican Rabbi Juggler. I had a choice; I could cave in to my feelings of low self-esteem and continue to beg for work, or I could elevate myself beyond that agent’s opinion of me and move to higher ground. I chose the latter, and fired off an email telling him exactly how I felt. In my mind, his not booking me was his loss, not mine. I would be moving on to bigger and better things. It was the first of my little victories in conquering self for this week.

Two days later, I was in the car, bound for Philadelphia where the cast of a new weekly variety show I’m producing was meeting for the first time. All the way there, the self gnawed at my heart, filling me with fear that this idea was going to be a huge disaster. All of that disappeared the moment we sat around the table and began to plan.

These folks are incredibly talented, and the vibe in the room as we brainstormed ideas was nothing short of electric. When I left there, I not only felt that we would soon have standing room only outside the place in a very short period of time, but that this thing would be bigger than anything I had ever imagined. Once again, the self that had held me back for so long lost the battle to Champion Choice.

The capper to this new way of thinking came last night, when I appeared at the Comedy Works at Georgine’s Restaurant in Bristol, Pennsylvania. I was booked here by Mike Kaplan about a month or so ago for the big Valentine’s Day dinner/show, which is held upstairs in the main banquet room. It’s a big money night for the club, for the restaurant and the show has got to be top-notch, lest there be about two hundred pissed off people. 

I knew that Kaplan had taken a chance on booking me. A month ago, I didn’t yet have the material to pull off a half-hour show and there was no guarantee that I would do well. But he made the choice to hire me anyway and I certainly didn’t want to let him (or myself) down. I promised him that I would have the material and deliver the goods. I promised me that I would not fail. I chose to succeed.

It isn’t easy to be fearless on a stage when doing standup. There’s a risk that a bit or an idea may not be accepted by the audience. In the past, I had always worried about that, and limited the amount of chances I took up there. Often, I would go the safer route for the sake of the guaranteed laugh. And just as often, I’d leave the stage at the end of my show with the “shameful” and “vile” feeling in the pit of my stomach to which Plato refers.

Such was not the case last night, for I hit it from moment One with a sense of empowerment and fearlessness. During the show, I could feel this insane, intense energy coursing through me; a light that burned so bright and strong that I felt as if it were radiating right out of me and bathing the entire audience in it. I brought them close to me, embraced them, and they reciprocated. It was a transcendental experience and it was all the result of the choices I had made to conquer self and get to the truth of who I was up there.

The second moment of satori came about halfway through the show, when one of the audience members mentioned that Ms. Houston had passed away. Apparently the news had just broken the story and he, along with a number of other audience members had just been texted on their phones with it.

An event of that magnitude could have trashed the whole show, if I had chosen to allow it. Instead, something very different took place.

At the very same moment I announced it, a new energy took hold of me. It was the fearlessness that had eluded me for so long, and suddenly, it had propelled me to a mind-place that I had never, ever known onstage before. From that point on, I felt like I was riding a rocket, kicking beyond the gravity of earth and soaring into the vast, infinite possibilities of space.

On the way home, I tried to analyze what had occurred, and what I came up with seemed to make some sense. I think that in that moment, I realized that this brilliantly talented woman, who had it all, chose to let her self defeat her. Now I didn’t know Ms. Houston at all, but I know enough about show business to be aware that a performer never, ever lets his or her public in on their demons. The average person has enough of their own troubles in life, and goes to see performers because of the illusion they provide the consumer. What we offer is an escape from reality for a short time. But sometimes a performer’s demons gain too much power because he or she allows them to, and they take over the whole shebang; publicly and privately. Such was Whitney’s case.

And so I think at that moment on stage, I decided a number of things in less than a second. First and foremost, I will never ever let anyone impose their prejudices about me upon me. I ...and I alone, will decide who I am and how I choose to present myself to the world.

Second, whether I am a success or not is irrelevant when it comes to either comedy or my life. I will choose my path, follow my heart, believe in myself, and never let the self conquer me. I may have plenty of demons which plague me on a nearly daily basis, but I will conquer each and every one of them.

Finally, to those who think they hold the power of my professional future in their hands, I say, you may hinder me, but you won’t stop me. If you close a door, I will find another one to open. The misery of a failed self is not me. The joy of a true self is.

I wish people like Ms. Houston had learned these things in their lives. Her needless, senseless death is tragic, not because she died so young although that in itself is a loss, but because she died so unhappy. Here is someone who had more than it all, and still chose to let her personal demons conquer her. This is the shameful and vile part of Plato’s statement. And so, if you really want to pay tribute to her, then learn from her. Taking the lesson that you decide how all of this is going to turn out does far more to honor her memory than posting a video of her singing on Facebook.

I hope that all of you who read this with any regularity can apply some of what I have tried to say here to your own lives. This lesson of conquering self is not limited to the foibles and frustration of show business. It is the key to peace. And really, at the end of our lives, peace is all that we take with us.

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat! Abbondanza!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Is You Is or Is You Ain't a Lady?

Do you remember the episode of the original Star Trek television series when a computer threatened to take over the Starship Enterprise and Mr. Spock caused it to self-destruct by asking it to calculate the exact value of pi? As any high school student can tell you, pi is a ratio of any circle’s circumference to its diameter; and that ratio has no absolute answer. But to keep students’ heads from exploding, The Federal Department of Exploding Head Prevention has determined that for all practical math problems pi shall be valued at 3.14.

Well, for America’s religious right, the issue of same-sex marriage is a lot like that.

The overturning of California’s Proposition 8 on same-sex marriage is a milestone, and one which may very well be game changer when this issue eventually comes before the Supreme Court. I don’t know if allowing TGLB folk to marry will improve the dismal survival statistics of the straights, but it certainly couldn’t hurt. Personally, I think that any group who has waited as long as the TGLB community has will probably do more to revive the “sanctity of marriage” than their hetero counterparts. Then again, I could be dead wrong and the rainbow community may be just as awful at high-fidelity as Newt and the rest of that gang.

The whole issue is moot for the transgendered community, as usual, because depending on which state we live in, there is some question as to whether or not we are legally recognized as male or female. So no matter who we want to marry we’re probably not going to be able to do it anyway. Confused? I don’t blame you. Consider the following equation.

1) Lydia, a lesbian, transgendered woman leaves New Jersey at 4 pm on a Thursday bound for Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee with her civilly unionized partner, Pat. She travels down I-95 at sixty-five miles per hour, with her newly re-issued New Jersey birth certificate packed in her bag, which clearly states that she was born female. Pat and she arrive twenty-four hours later to begin their new jobs as cast members in the “9 to 5” nightclub show. 

Two days after starting the job, Lydia is summoned to the ‘Human’ Relations office where she is told that Tennessee does not recognize her New Jersey birth certificate OR her civil union with Pat. However, because the State of Tennessee still views her as a man, she and Pat can get legally married, thereby preserving the ‘sanctity’ of marriage. So, if x= miles per hour, how soon can Lydia and Pat get the hell out of Tennessee and back to civilization? 

I)                    Faster than a speeding bullet
II)                  The speed of sound
III)                The speed of light
IV)              I and II only

. If you answered IV, congratulations! As for you others, really, the speed of light? Come on people! Every first-grader (except in Tennessee) knows that we have not yet been able to achieve that. If we could, then we could travel through time and replace Tennessee with a really nice, big lake; maybe call it Rainbow Lake.  However, if that option were available, I’m sure Pat and Lydia would have jumped on it faster than Fred Phelps can say, “God hates Fags”, which as we all know, is pretty damned fast. But let’s move on to question number two.

2. Justin, a transgendered  man with a newly re-issued New Jersey birth certificate designating him as male, gets a great job with Texas Sourdough Company and has to move to um...Texas, where his birth certificate will be honored.

At the annual holiday party, Justin meets Susan, a systems analyst. The two begin dating and within a year, Justin asks for Susan’s hand (and the rest of her) in marriage. They plan on a huge wedding, because this is Texas and everything is big.

Two weeks before the nuptials, Justin and Susan go down to City Hall to get their marriage license. Guy Le Clerc, who works in the Records Department, regretfully informs the couple that they cannot be legally married because even though Justin is considered male in both New Jersey and Texas, the decision rendered by the Texas Supreme Court in Littleton v. Prange forbids it. Justin, for marriage purposes, is still considered female, and same-sex marriage is illegal in Texas. Mr. Le Clerc offers his apologies, but keeps the ten-dollar processing fee. The couple leave City Hall heartbroken and in tears, thereby preserving the ‘sanctity’ of marriage.

At same time Jason, Justin’s twin, who is a transgendered gay man (come on people, work with me here) also moves to Texas and gets a job with the Texas Sourdough Company. At the same holiday party, Jason meets the love of his life, Ludlow “Sonny” Day. They too, would like to marry, but of course, cannot because same-sex marriage is verboten in the Longhorn State. Or can they? 

Given that Texas bases its marital criteria on gender at birth, it would seem that Jason (born female) and Sonny (a genetic male) could in fact, marry, thereby preserving the ‘sanctity’ of marriage. What do you think?

In your own words, please describe how fucked-up this is. Pay particular attention to sentence and paragraph construction, syntax, and supply detail descriptions. Pints will be deduckted for speling.

I wish I ran The Federal Department of Exploding Head Prevention because I would love to take a swing at this issue. It’s not nearly as complex as say, the value of pi. Oh what the hell, there’s no such thing as The Federal Department of Exploding Head Prevention, so I might as well.

First of all, let’s examine the ‘sanctity’ of marriage. Now I’m not saying all marriages are bullshit, but I’d be willing to bet that the percentage is higher than the tight, pursed lips of the religious right would care to admit. Just look around in your own life; in the last year or two how many politicians, ministers, friends, and just plain folk in your neighborhood have tossed their marriages into the trash along with that green cream cheese that had been in your refrigerator since last Fourth of July? And how many more of your friends would like to take up La Vida Single, but can’t because of economics. Yes pilgrim, recession even affects the ‘sanctity’ of marriage.  Most statisticians agree that in the recession, the rate of divorce drops because of economics. As the song says, “It’s cheaper to keep her”.

Second, the idea of civil marriage differs from the religious version. The civil version (which is the one in question), carries a lot of economic and social benefits, such as joint tax filing, sharing of health benefits, child rearing, and of course being able to be at your spouse’s bedside in the event of a health calamity. As for the religious version, I truly don’t believe that people are going to worship in a church where they are not welcomed, much less marry in one. So for those who subscribe to the ‘abomination’ philosophy of people like Rick Santorum, et al, just go about your business; you have no power here. But stay out of my business as well.

Now on to the issue of who’s a male and who’s a female. Until the day comes when geneticists can prove conclusively one way or another that transgenderism is in fact, physical in origin and not a mental disorder, y’all are going to just have to take our word for it that it exists. But until that happens, believing that God couldn’t or wouldn’t create us is the real abomination. Because if you believe in God, you believe that He is perfect, that He made everything and that He can make no mistakes. Thus, if he cannot make mistakes, and He made transgendered folk, then I am not a mistake. So kiss my ass.

Societly speaking, the XY or XX argument in determining gender will remain the chromosomal equivalent of pi; but at least in pi’s case, the mathematicians were able to reach a compromise on its value. Surely the religious right can do the same when valuing human beings.

Let me close by saying that I have no skin in the marriage game, having done it unsuccessfully twice. In all honesty, I would never do it again, even if I could. Seriously, I would rather scotch tape a bloody steak around my thigh and put my leg in the mouth of a Rottweiler with rabies, who’s been fasting for two weeks, then pull my own bloody limb out of the great beast’s gaping maw and beat myself to death with it before I ever agree to marry someone, male or female. But there are those who still want to and they should have the right to do so. If they love each other and believe in the institution, it would, in Mr. Spock’s words, be “illogical” not to permit it.

You go on and get married if that satisfies you. And if your state doesn't allow it, fight like hell to change that. As for me? I’m grabbing a slice of pie from the fridge.

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat! Abbondanza!




Saturday, February 4, 2012

Super Hyperbole

Oh boy! It’s Friday night and I don’t have a gig, so I can spend it doing one of my favorite things; being parked in front of the ole laptop reading the latest from National Geographic Magazine at And there is just so much good stuff packed into it that it might take me all weekend to finish it!

For instance, there is a very cool story about the H.L. Hunley, a Confederate SUBMARINE which sunk off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina in 1864 after it fired a torpedo into the U.S.S. Housatonic. It was the first sub to sink a ship EVER, and it was brought to the surface in 2000, with the skeletons of the crew still inside! Now, after twelve years of restoration, Nat Geo has published some wonderful color pictures for the world to see. I can’t wait to research this even more... maybe I’ll save it for some Sunday night fun!

But enough about the Hunley because if I go on and on about it I won’t have time to tell you about GJ 667Cc! Never heard of it you say? Who’s that you ask? HA! Why, just the biggest celebrity to hit the astronomic world in light years! GJ 667Cc is a NEWLY DISCOVERED PLANET JUST 22 LIGHT YEARS FROM HERE (22 ½ with traffic). And, what makes this discovery so damned exciting is that it makes it one of the best candidates yet to support our kind of life! Can you imagine that? After we’re done screwing this planet up, we now have a BACKUP Planet to ruin! Sure it’s pretty rocky, but once the marketing department is done with designing a campaign, it won’t be long before Richard Branson is selling tickets and packaged climbing tours on his Virgin Atlantic- faster than the speed of light rocket ship. And for you sun worshippers, GJ (pronounced gee-jay) boasts not just one main sun, but a pair of orange dwarf stars to boot! Wow... orange dwarf stars. I can see John Boehner drooling over that one while he’s making his summer vacation plans!

As if that weren’t exciting enough, how about this? Antarctica’s fastest-melting glacier is about to lose a chunk of ice larger than all of New York City!

The article doesn’t say whether the Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica (everything is bigger out west) is the size of just Manhattan, or all five boroughs, but even if it’s just the same area from the Battery to Dykman Street , it is going to be one big-ass ice cube floating around out there.

What makes this so significant and a bit scary too is that because of its location, it will be floating to the ocean at a faster pace than other glaciers normally have and will be RAISING THE SEA LEVEL! (Are you listening, Gingrich?)

So there are amazing and frightening things going on in the world and we should all be packing carry on bags ($25 per bag, please) for the next ship bound for GJ 667Cc. It’s all over and...

“Just park that Virgin Atlantic- faster than the speed of light rocket ship back in your hanger, Missy. You ain’t a goin nowhere!”
Hey....Generic Voice #1! I haven’t heard from you since way back in December. How the hell are ya?

“Don’t you worry about how I AM, you crazyass trans-gen-dentalist. Just what kind of nonsensical bullshit are you tryin to stir up here with all this National Geographical crap? Don’t you know this is a sacred weekend for America... hell for the civilized world? 

Sacred weekend? What on earth are you talking about? This isn’t a sacred anything. It’s just...

“SUPER BOWL WEEKEND, YA GENDER-BENDIN MANIAC! It’s the single, most important day of the year!”

Oh, that. Yeah, I guess it is a big deal for a lot of folks.

“You guess? You GUESS? Sister, let me fill you in on the facts. This is the most talked about, most watched, most beer-drinking-est, event of the year. Why, the fate of the entire civilized world economy (don’t count Europe) rests upon the success of those massively, magnificently built, sweaty boys in their tight-fitting, ass-hugging pants. Why did you know that on this one day, the NATL (National Average Testosterone Level) rises by nearly 4% in men AND women? Or that the VPI (Vomit Production Index) goes up by 2.76%?

 Really? I didn’t know that. The world does need more vomit and testosterone, and I'm glad America is Number One,  I guess.  But honestly, don’t you think the story about the new planet is import...

“Oh my Lord woman, or whatever you are! Listen to yourself! What kind of an American are you? Why don’t you just use Old Glory  for toilet paper or kick Uncle Sam in his red, white and blue testes? I’m talking FOOTBALL here. GOD’s game! Invented by God Himself! And all you can blather on about is some new planet or a 150 year old submarine? What the hell is wrong with you anyway? You a Commie or something? Why I’ll bet you Tebow to a picture of Stalin every morning. ”

Seriously? C’mon GV, it’s just a game. Don’t you think you’re giving in to all the hype from the media?

“Just a game? What in the name of Rock Hudson are you talking about? This isn’t just a game, toots. This is a moment in history, like raising the flag on Iwo Jima or the cancellation of “Working It”. This is about good, God-fearing American manly men and the women who serve them coming together on this sacred day in unity. Why, more praying is done on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day of the year, did you know that?

Actually, no I didn’t...

Sure! Gamblers and hard-working Joes from every corner of this great nation bow their heads and ask their Loving God for His blessing in having the winning box in the office pool or that their team beats the spread. I’ve got $50 that says Madonna will have a wardrobe malfunction, for crying out tears.

Yes, but in the end, it really is just a game. I mean, you don’t get hurt like those guys do, you don’t make any money from playing it, and if you ran into Eli Manning on the street and started yakking with him, he’d probably just have his security guy rough you up and toss you into a dumpster. I guess its fun and all to watch, but you are just so overwrought about it.

Don’t you see that you are buying into it all? It’s just a way for these corporate pimps to rake in the money. And with all of the other really important stuff going on in the world, like the Antarctic’s glaciers melting, I would think that you would at least have the same amount of passionate concern as you do about something as trivial as this game. By the way, you have a little frothy thing happening at the corner of your lips there. I think you’re overexcited.

“Wha? Oh yeah... that happens when I get all sparked up like this. It’s a side-effect of the anti-depressants I take.”

You? Depressed? Why, GV?  Wait... are you crying?

“I... I don’t really know why. It’s just that after you said all of that, it kind of made sense to me. Look, I don’t have much in my life. I hate my job, I’m behind on all of my bills, and I feel like a complete failure in life. This game, jeez ... I mean I LIVE for this one day in the year, ya know? For a few hours, I belong somewhere, with other people, and we can forget all about the crappy world and the friggin global warming, and all the other horrible shit that’s going on around us. It’s just ....happy for a while. Wait...why are YOU crying, Missy?”

“Because you’re right, Generic Voice #1. I take all this stuff so seriously sometimes and I forget that it weighs on people who are just trying to get by in life and eventually get out of here with the least amount of pain. I mean, I’m sorry the glaciers are melting and that eventually, Ohio will have ocean front property, I really am. But it does no one any good to think about it all the time. There’s something to be said for good ole Ecclesiastes 3:1.

To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal ...
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance ...
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiasts 3:1-8
“Well ma’am I’m surprised that a heathen abomination like you even knows that wonderful song. Would you like one of my anti-depressants?.”

No thanks. I’m not just a pretty face you know, GV. I’ve got feelings.

Darlin’, no offense, but you have about fifteen floors of freakish and homely to climb before you can even see pretty. But you know what? You ain’t so bad once people get to know you a little. Maybe after the game you can tell me about this new planet and the glaciers. And by the way, that sub story sounds pretty interesting too.

Thanks GV. You aren’t so bad yourself for a pompous blowhard with a low-rent IQ. Tell me a little bit about this game tomorrow. What makes it so exciting?

Well there’s the matchup. It hasn’t happened in quite a while. And then there’s the half-time show and the commercials. Did you know Matthew Broderick is going to be appearing as Ferris Beuller in a Honda commercial?

No! Really? “Bueller....Bueller...”

“Bueller...Bueller”’re all right, you know that? Say, I’m having a little Super Bowl wingding over at the house. Why don’t you come on over and join us?”

Can I bring a date?

Hmmm... I don’t know. man or woman?

It doesn't really matter CV, does it? Man, woman, you've got to get past all of that.  It all depends on what time you choose for us all to come together.

Well, the game starts at six. The party starts at three. But you weren’t talking about the game time, were you?

Nope. I’m on Ecclesiastes time. By the way, are you a Giants or a Patriots fan?

Patriots! Booya! Don’t tell me you like the Giants? It figures.

Uh I guess Ecclesiastes would say that for me, tomorrow is going to be my time to dance. For you, unfortunately, it will be a time to weep.

Woman... nobody likes a smartass.

Well then, I guess its time to leave.


No, Scotti.

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat! Abbondanza!