Friday, June 27, 2008

666, Lesbians & Spell Check for Guns.

Years ago, when I worked as a cashier in a 7-11, this happened a few times. A customer would come to the counter with a handful of small items, I would ring them up and the total would come to, $6.66. Every time this happened, the persons eyes would go wide and they would reach for the nearest thing to change the balance. A candy bar, gum, beef jerky. Whatever. One time when this happened the guy looked up at me in shock! He reached for a plastic cigarette lighter and said, "You wanna be right with the lord."
Yes. I'm sure the Zig Zag rolling papers, condoms and breath mints are OK with the Lord.
People would get so worked up over that number. One lady made the sign of the cross when the amount came up and put back a scratcher lottery ticket explaining, "There can be no good luck for me now!"
She left the store with her head low. Her whole day was ruined now because her purchase was not six dollars and sixty sixty cents. Her purchase was the number of the beast! either she believed that she was now the Devil, or that her day would end with seeing the Devil. My point is, people have an amazing capacity to find what they are afraid of or what they are offended by. I do it too. I can make anything into a "sign." Good or bad. But numbers are just numbers and letters are just letters. We give them power. We give them meaning.
The guy who said to me, "You wanna be right with the Lord" are you kidding me Dude? You are obviously buying rolling papers to get high, attempt to have sex with someone and desire clean breath to do this. But 666 pops up on the register and you think a 99 cent lighter is going to cause the devil to stand down? Like he is in hell watching all this and can do nothing until someones purchase comes to that number. The devil must of watched the counter like a game show. "Come on, fat man! Stop staring at the candy and pick up the Mars Bar you always get. If you just add that to your twizzlers and Sunday paper, my lucky number will pop up and I will control you through your purchase! I shall reign evil down upon those close to you with...a Twizzler, Mars bar and the In Style section of the San Francisco Examiner?" I think not.
But people do get worked up about the meaning of things. Especially when two things happen to share a word or term. For example, the island of Lesbos.
Check this entry from Wikipedia.

The word lesbian is derived from the poems of Sappho, born in Lesbos, which contain powerful emotional content directed toward other females and have frequently been interpreted as expressing homosexual love. Because of this association, Lesbos and especially the town of Eresos, her birthplace, are visited frequently by lesbian tourists.

Apparently the good people who live on the island are tired of their name being associated with the whole lesbian thing. You have to feel sorry for the people who live on the island of fagitos.
The people of Lesbos are suing a Greek gay rights organization with the word lesbian in it's title. They say only residents of the island have the right to call themselves Lesbians. Being known as the capitol and birthplace of woman on woman love does not sit well with them. If the law suit succeeds, they say they will take the action global. Well God Damn! Are they aware that the word Greek also has another meaning? If you are going to sue over the meaning and use of the word lesbian, you might want to think about the name of your country also meaning anal sex. Just a though.

Then there are protest signs.
A few days ago the Supreme Court ruled that Washington D.C.'s 32 year old ban on hand guns violated the second amendment. For the pro-gun folks, this was a huge victory. The supreme court had remained silent for more than a hundred years on the meaning of the second amendment. But thats not the point. The point is this sign, held by a pro-gun owner outside the supreme court.

If Guns Kill People...Do Pens Misspell Words?

Well, guns do kill people. That is what they have been made to do. Kill. There are sportsman, but their targets are in the shape of people. It sort of implies that if you want to step it up a notch, the next logical target is the real thing. Then there are of course starting pistols. When you hear that go off what are you suppose to do? Run! Why? Because it's a fucking gun! Guns are scary. There is no such thing as a, lets all take a breath and sort this out, pistol. It doesn't exist. Guns have one and only one function. To kill. They have been made extremely lethal and scientifically efficient for this purpose. Guns of course do not kill on their own. They have to be connected to the hand of a person. Why do I have a feeling that most of the people who are happy about this ruling are the same people who would not be able to spell second amendment?
Ink might come only in permanent form, but lead is definitely forever. If a kid who doesn't know any better picks up a pen, he usually doesn't show up on the news the next day. If a kid in school has spent every day of his life tormented by bullies and doesn't get the help he needs at home, cameras don't show up if he one day sits down in the cafeteria and writes a scathing journal entry. Course, if he actually writes a story about shooting people and turns that in, he will be in a shit load of trouble. The pen might be mightier than the sword, but a pen misspelling a word is not the same sort of mistake as a bullet leaving the barrel is. No one looks at a misspelled word and thinks, "Why didn't we see the signs?" I don't know why cause chances are those signs were spelled incorrectly. Pretty hard to miss those signs. There is no equivalent to spell check for guns. None that I know of. You can tear down and throw away a human shaped target, but when you get a gun outside the range and they go off, people don't circle those mistakes in red. They circle them in chalk.
If guns kill people do pens misspell words. What a douche!


Cobb's was awesome last night. Paul F. Tompkins is a master story teller as well as a pretty nice guy. It's a great room when it's packed and last night, it was packed. Standing in the back of the room and looking at him on stage I wondered if I looked that cool up there? It's a classy set up these days down at Cobb's. Gone is the painted back drop no one ever understood and instead, there is a classic black curtain lit with colored spot lights. It's a great stage!
Nico was the opener and Paul was the headliner. In my hot dog T-shirt and second hand leather coat, that made me the worse dressed comic of the evening. The crowd was good for me, but they were so obviously there for Paul. I get so envious of these guys who can draw hundreds of people on a Thursday night. It's all about exposure. The dude is all over VH1 and does commentary for the Keith Olberman show too. Damn! Could that be any cooler?
After the show, Nico had me laughing so hard that I was crying as I tried to talk to people on the way out the door. I was pissed that I forgot fliers to hand out to people. These were so the people I want coming to my shows!
And that's it. No wild story this time or crazy heckler situation. Just a good night at a great club with a smart crowd. You know, the way it ought to be all the time.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


RALEIGH, N.C. — Thanks to some text message-savvy grandchildren, North Carolina drivers whose license plates have the potentially offensive "WTF" letter combination can replace the tags for free.

Well, there you go folks. We have now decided that Ritalin cracked Myspace junkies will determine what combination of letters are deemed offensive. George Carlin talked about the 7 words you couldn't say on TV, we now have three letters you can't use on cars. Great. All I can really say about this is, WTF?
This is serious? Please. People seem to think that the law should keep them from being offended at anything any time. It's letters! Thats all. Letters. Will we someday live in a time when saying a single letter to a person will be taken as an insult?
"Dude. You are such a W!"
I guess we already live in those times if you think of the President. What Hitler did for that style of mustache, Bush does for the letter W.
I heard V and X won't even appear with W on Sesame street anymore.
If W is now going to be partly offensive due to it's association with the combo WTF, then what are we to think when we see two W's in the WWJD combo? Seriously? This is of great concern to me as a reader and writer who encounters letters on a daily basis. What other potential combination of letters lurk in the alphabet ready to poison our children's minds and render the backs of cars foul?
Here are a couple of other combinations I find offensive and dangerous in these times.
You get the idea.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Gloom and Doom Report

Ah the news.
I have been so preoccupied with my own gloom and doom lately that I have almost completely missed out on the worlds gloom and doom.
Iowa is now one of the great lakes, the Philippines got hit with a massive storm and China is still dealing with the after effects of an Earthquake leveling an entire city of millions. Meanwhile, California reportedly has 800 separate wild fires going. Food prices are on the rise, gas at the pump is on the rise and tomatoes are the deadliest thing you can find at airports. Not terrorists.
The Taliban, by the way, had a prison break in Afghanistan. 400 inmates got out and have now taken over a town. Good thing we have troops close by!
Like in Iraq.
A campaign worker for McCain has been let go for saying a terrorist attack on America right now would be good for them. Damn! Looking at the current state of the country, exactly what could a terrorist do to us? Are terrorists handing out BLT's to relief workers along the banks of the Mississippi? Are they banks foreclosing on homes? Are they FEMA telling people they didn't flood insurance only to turn around and say, you did?
The Bible people are almost beside themselves with the belief that all these natural disasters mean we are in the end times. The prospect of a black guy in the White House seems to be one of their four horse men of the apocalypse too. Or, we could all face reality and prepare ourselves for a readjusting and an eventual return to more sane times. But first, we have to hit bottom. That means putting regulations back in place on the companies that control the resources that have a direct effect on Americans life, liberty and the pursuit of our happiness.
Oil is going through the roof not because the "Arab's" are raising the price. It is the speculators on Wall Street who are creating an artificial lack of supply. Remember ENRON? California deregulated the energy business. ENRON, a company that didn't make energy but owned the power lines, jumped in the second regulations were lifted and made billions of dollars while whole cities were blacked out because there was a shortage of power "on paper." Same thing is going on now with oil. The richest one percent of Americans who had their tax's cut by Bush and friends, are now being given the legal ability to fuck their fellow, poorer Americans by artificially driving the price of oil up. The government regulations put in place to prevent just this sort of thing from happening were removed. Surprise! The rich people did not trickle down their record profits to the rest of us because of tax cuts. That is the lie they use to sell this crazy idea every time they do it. Even Bush's Dad called the economic their Voodoo. Instead, we have been getting a golden shower and being told we better learn to love it.
The weather has gone nuts because for the last 50 years we have been belching TONS of carbon into the sky. In the last ten years India and China have almost caught up to us in that department. The first effect of "Global Warming" is more frequent and more intense storms. Have you been watching the weather channel lately? A report that said this would happen has a 20 year old date on it's cover. NASA recently admitted that politically appointed staffers were directed by the White House to minimize reports on the effects of global warming. People still want to argue that blasting tons and tons of pollutants into the air can have no effect on the climate. Really? These are the same type of people who put Galileo under house arrest for saying the Earth went round the Sun.
These are not the end times folks, these are the consequences of what we have been doing. Or better put, this is the result of letting the people in power direct us into oblivion for the sake of making money.
Every time some one tells you we need less government so business can prosper, point to ENRON and now the speculators driving the cost of oil through the roof and ask them, how much is enough? Those regulations are put in place because people with a lot of power and money, tend to get greedy. Maybe you have noticed.

Monday, June 23, 2008

"...if you are reading this, it can only mean one thing..."

I just told my friend about falling asleep inside my car with the engine running. She said, "What if that would of happened in a garage? You are lucky to be alive!"
I didn't get it for a second then hit me, people would of thought I committed suicide!
To avoid this situation in the future, I am preparing a suicide note now. This is tricky. It has to be worded just right. If I say in the note, it was an accident, people will read it and go, "How sad. He thought his whole life was just an accident."
I'm adopted. It is. But I don't mean that in this case.
Next idea; I didn't mean for this to happen. Again, even if I fall asleep in my car with the engine running and die, people will read this note and assume that I not only committed suicide, but that I was being dramatic. I think people already think that of me, but still, a suicide note should be short but epic. Will get back to this later on. I just think it's good to be prepared. I mean, I don't really own anything so I don't need a will. Anything I thought worthy of keeping is either already in my blog here or in a card board box at the foot of my bed.
To eliminate all possible chances of people assuming I killed myself when instead I was simply an idiot and natural selection bumped me off, you have to write something that sounds very dry and very specific to the situation.
If you find me slumped over against the wheel of my car and don't find any other note but this one, I didn't kill myself. I fell asleep at the wheel with the engine running. Sorry I was an idiot.
There are two problems with this.
1. Now I have to write a note for every possible stupid thing I have ever done that I might do again resulting in my death. I could write a hundred notes a day till the day I die and still not get them all down on paper. Note to reader; if found dead while writing suicide notes, it was probably old age and not any of the dumb things that did me in.
2. I have left a giant loop hole if someone wants to murder me. Besides, I don't want my last words to sound like a disclaimer. People might still think I did it on purpose anyway. There is no good solution to this unique problem. I sorta like the disclaimer idea though. It is very multi-purpose. I could die in any number of stupid ways. So maybe a disclaimer is the way to go. This is the note I am going to now keep in the glove compartment of my car.
Life was OK. Your results may vary. Inspector 68.
I think the inspector 68 is a nice touch. It doesn't mean anything, but it seems mysterious and kinda like those labels in clothes where it just says, inspected by number 12. People might think it was clue to a safe deposit box or the to the person that killed me or some final enduring mystery that will live on in chat rooms and Myspace comments. You know, what passes for eternity now.
The thing is, I really got to thinking about this. I think that if someone had found me slumped over in the front seat, people could make a good argument for me wanting to end it all. Don't get worried or sad folks, I would not exactly say I am great, but I am well and this is not a subtle cry for help.
Or is it?
Gotcha! Thanks for caring folks.
Seriously though. If people found you in that situation would they think it was an accident or you did it on purpose? Look, I know my life is crap. You know how I know? I get phone calls from friends with wives and houses and careers that I haven't heard from in a while. They all start out the same way. "Something terrible just happened to me and I knew if anyone could understand it, it would be you."
I am the Guru of shit.
Thanks friends. Maybe someday after a particular hard part of your life people will find you at the wheel of your car with the note, Life was OK. Your results may vary. Inspector 68.
I think I just admitted to having homicidal thoughts toward friends.
Watch it!
Just kidding.
So, after much thought (About an hours worth) here are two notes. One is for an actual suicide and one is for an accidental death.
1. Actual suicide: Thanks, thats been my time.
Classy, ha? If you find that note on me then you know I had enough. I 'got the light' as we say in the biz.
2. Accidental death: At exactly the same hour as my death, my X girlfriend will also pass from this world. I hope you are right, my beloved.
You have to love this! It's revenge on a beautiful scale. Dark. But beautiful. Lets think this through. Because of my preponderance for doing dumb things and the general bitching I do about the state of my happiness, there is a good chance an accidental death will appear to be a suicide. In the event of this, it will look like I left a note detailing a suicide pact. When people find her still among the living, they will give her a hard time and say, "Can you believe how cold she was? Making a pact with him and then not going through with it!"
I know. Its pretty evil, but you have to admit thats pretty good! I am thinking of pitching a whole new line of cards to Hallmark. Graceful exists, I will call it. No wait, better yet, a brand new type of fortune cookie to be distributed at your funeral! Yeah. You pick the message before you die and we will hand them out at the service. It could say something as easy as, It seemed like a good bet. Or, Spring Break 09! Think of the possibilities!
That could be one too. We could specialize in various jobs or occasions. I am going to look for a domain name in a second now. I think the site is a tomb stone morphing into a fortune cookie with these words bellow; Thanks for stopping by. Obviously you have figured out that you do some pretty dumb shit from time to time. Since death will be traumatic for those you leave behind, don't let them feel the extra burden of thinking you killed yourself. Pick one of our sayings for the appropriate occasion or write your own and we will put it in a cookie to be delivered any where in the world upon notice of your death.
Come on! Tell me that wouldn't be an over night success?


Nebraska was a surprise for many reason and in many ways. The people displayed a generosity of spirit I have never come across in all my years of travel in this country. When I hear conservative, I will understand now that they are not all alike. Hopefully, I have left a positive impression too. Norfolk, is America. It is the America you want to believe we are and the America you want to believe we came from. It is the three block main street and the people waving at each other. It is a church on every other corner, but it is also the pastures and fields I find what I imagine they must find in those churches. I like knowing that Norfolk is a real place with real people leading normal lives. The thought that families still farm is comforting in some way. Norfolk is the kind of town you can't wait to get out of when you are young. But it is also the town you can't wait to get back to. It explained a lot of why Johnny Carson was the way he was. His temperament and interview style was always patient, always sincere and never really about him. That was his great talent. I remember watching him over my dad's shoulder as a kid. My parents would leave their bedroom door open at night. I would sneak out of bed and stand just outside the open door in the hall watching the comics. I understood very little of the jokes, but I could hear my Dad laugh and knew that it was funny. This went on for years before I was old enough to sit at the foot of their bed and watch. Eventually, I watched alone in the basement den. Being there, in his home town and seeing what he came from, I thought about that memory again, watching him over my Dad's shoulder. When I did get a joke, I had to work hard at not laughing so I wouldn't be heard. I kinda felt like thats what the crowd was doing sometimes.

My favorite memories from this are not the big bright ones. They are the little moments when I was talking with Robert Mac in the back of the Bus on the way to the airport. It was having Dick Cavett tell me I reminded him in some strange way of David Bowie before turning away to someone else leaving me with my mouth hanging open. It was being on a hay ride with 20 other confused comics trying earnestly to listen to a lecture on watering crops and while fitting this moment into reality. Those were all great, but what really made an impression was the last show. I am not use to sitting still and watching stand-up. I fidget too much anyway. But on the last night, I sat in the audience and watched. People look so small from the crowd. But each person, some more polished than others, stepped out on the huge stage and filled it from their first word. It made me hungry to be on stage. It made me realize again how fucking cool it is to do what we do as comics. It made me want to go home and write jokes. Not long winded stories or bits that I could never tell on TV, but solid practical jokes like I was hearing now. That was the moment I realized I still have a creative level as well as a business level to reach. I thought I was creatively far along. Watching these other comics, I know that I am very very good, but I also know now that there is a lot more I can do with what I have. The joke, that short sentence of set up and punch, is still an amazing thing to watch when done right. I did feel like a lot of the delivery was very similar though. Everyone started to sound like they had the same cadence. If anything, I want to keep my delivery, but I can see where the tightly worded, beautifully constructed joke is the thing to aim for. Personality will take care of the rest.

I hate travel. Not the seeing new places, but the actual moving from one place to another part of it all. I love staying in hotels too. It doesn't matter if it is a big one or a small one. I know I have stayed in way too many though. Every knock at my bedroom door now I just say, "No thanks! Not today!"
It took all day to get back into San Francisco. When I finally made it, I found the rarest of things; a parking space directly in front of my apartment door! I wanted to do a set at the Punchline last night. I love coming home from a long road gig and stretching out in the living room that is the Punchline. Thats how comfortable I feel on that stage! I couldn't nap. I showered, put on what was left of my clean clothes and got in my car a little reluctant to let this space go. I thought about taking the bus. I turned the key, pushed the button for the radio to come on and thats the last thing I recall. The next moment a roommate was knocking on my window asking me if I was alright. Near as we could tell, I feel asleep right there on the drivers wheel. The car ran until the gas was gone and thats where he found me at 5:30AM this morning. Damn! I really need to take better care of myself. The dreams were crazy vivid. Those dreams you only have when you have been fighting sleep for hours. What I was thinking and dreaming merged seamlessly. One second I was thinking about the Greased Pig story and the next I was in a field with a shovel looking at an impossibly huge sun thinking, that is not the normal color. Then, my roommate beating on the window thinking something terrible had happened to me. I had to go to the nearest Gas station, wait for them to open and get gas before I could get coffee. After I filled up again and headed down the road to Starbucks, I got pulled over by a cop and given a fix it ticket. One headlight and a brake light were out. What! The car simply sat in a garage for a week. Excellent. Nothing like starting the day with no gas, waking up in the same clothes you had the night before and having a cop inform you that you must now spend money on a car problem or face a fine by the state.
How did your day start?


We lost one of the greats today. George Carlin was the comics comic who made the crowd do what the best of us desire to accomplish; think while laughing. There are only a few comics who blazed the trail we take for granted. Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks, Richard Pryor and George Carlin. They were not just stand-up comics. They were philosophers who accurately spoke about the insanity around them. I always felt like Carlin was more an anthropologist with punch lines, than anything else. He would stay quiet for years and then blast back onto the scene with his latest observations on America. More silly than Hicks and more sane with his drugs than Bruce and Pryor, he defined not just a style that would be copied by many comics who came after him, but he took the risks and paid the price that allowed any comic to say what they want on stage in front of a live audience. I will admit to not being his biggest fan, but I always respected the man for his work and always felt like I owed him a debt of gratitude for making the English language we actually speak a living thing that he pulled art from.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I'm Up!

Tonight I will not sleep. Instead, I will be alone at my key board updating my Facebook status every few hours in some misguided idea that I am reaching out. I will sleep on the bus that leaves here in the morning at 7:30. I will sleep in the airport and on the airplane and maybe through the next anxiety attack if I am lucky. I have stayed in so many hotels that I greet any knock at the door like it's the maid. "No thanks! Not today."
Can you put a do not disturb sign on your life? I think, I have.
How do you let anyone in when you have put all your energy into building your defenses? How can people you have vastly conflicting philosophies in life with be so kind to you?
Watching the inky storms light up from the inside and move past my hotel window as delicate as Bee wings has been a highlight to this whole unique adventure. Isn't that what life is suppose to be? Who said it? John Lennon? Life is what happens when your making plans? Or is it waiting for something to happen? I don't know.
Tonight, I saw the Booker of the David Letterman show give a bunch of comics advice in the parking lot of a HiVe grocery store before he got into a limo twice the size of my bedroom.
I saw Dick Cavott reminisce about a time on TV when there were no pre-interviews and go way long, freaking out the production staff. I saw Robert Kline tell jokes about the fallacy of the Iraq war. The crowd went dead quiet, too polite to ever heckle and then switch to dick jokes before doing a long musical bit with a piano to close on. It killed. Tonight, I realized we have become a society of narrators, obsessively updating our Myspace and Facebook status messages. We look down at our phones and keyboards and life passes us by as we tell no one and everyone that we are awake at four in the morning and craving cookie dough over human contact, but someone might find it interesting to know that, so I will type it into the correct box and it will neatly appear for all the universe to see and for no one in particular.
Dick Cavott gave the best description of depression I have ever heard. If there was a magic wand sitting ten feet away from you and you knew that you could wave it and all this sadness that sits on your mind would be lifted, you would feel like it was too hard to reach for it. That's it!
My plan is to just stay awake till the morning. I will try to sleep on the two hour Bus ride to the airfield. I will try to sleep on the two hour flight to Phoenix. I will try to sleep on the one hour lay over before I try to sleep on the two hour flight to San Francisco and what is, for better or worse, the life I have created.
You know what I want more than anything right now? I want to make out with a hot chick who is cool. Remember kissing? I feel like that is what people see stand-up comedy as; kissing. It is the thing you do on your way to the thing you really want to do. That is a metaphor that can go wrong quickly. Why the fuck not?
This is a photo of me at now.

If I could post all of this as an update I would. Someone might care to know that my mind is heavy. Or that I am in Nebraska. Or that I am thinking about making coffee with the little coffee pot in my room. Or that I have a million little things to do when I get back. Or that I bought a shirt at Wall-Mart yesterday against my better judgement. Or something that will make them send a pithy comment and we can both feel like we have made some meaningful contact at this late late filter free hour. I'm up!