A Blast from the Past/You Can't Please Everyone
Lately my e-mail has been flooded with comments from people leaving comments about many of my past articles at The Cheers. I LOVE the comments. I love them here, at the MBC bulletin board, and at The Cheers. I like knowing people are reading and what they thought of my work, even if I end up getting hate mail.
Of course, the many comments I've received of late were not actual comments at all. Since I've been one of the most read authors at The Cheers, some of my most read pieces have been subjected to internet SPAMMERS plugging some great new online casino and all that. When you like reading the comments from readers, finding out you're being SPAMMED kinda takes the wind out of the sails.
Well today I did in fact receive a real comment from an actual reader...sort of. Since this is PROBABLY hate mail, I freely share it with you, as is tradition around here.
This comment was left on one of my infamous KENTUCKY STORIES. For those not familiar, I've had many an unusual encounter in the Bluegrass State and I've shared the more humorous ones with my fans (both of them). This story in particular dealt with some of the STUPID people I met in Kentucky. I made no hint that Kentucky itself was a stupid state, mind you. I just thought I'd share some of the things that some of the stupid people said & did while I was there. It was funny and sadly, it was all true.
Anyway, here's the comment left by some angry guy (a Kentuckian, no doubt) named Jon.
"The idiot that wrote this/ Jon 2005-06-30 17:00:21
See, he figured that I really didn't know anything about Kentucky and he felt that in order to shut up this uptight Yankee he'd do me the favor of directing me to a site that gave me lots of valuable information about the state. People are so cute when they first learn how to use the internet, aren't they? Anyway, I left a response for him and gave a light-hearted jab at the guy for not actually reading the piece at all, except for the parts he wanted to read.
If you'd like to read my other Kentucky stories, allow me to direct you to these links.
A Clown in Kentucky
The Price is WRONG!
And, of course, the article inspiring this post...
Need an Education? Kentucky Wants to Help!
Please excuse the severe LACK of quotation marks & apostrophes within the articles. They WERE there when I wrote the pieces. Apparently they've got some sort of software glitch that eliminates such things. I like that "Jon" didn't comment on the fact that there were no apostrophes, since he's so smart and all. ;)
How to Get Andy to Play Your Town
So you want Andy Martello to work in your area, eh? Well there are ways to make this happen.
1) First, I can just go to your home town and try to drum up work. NOT GONNA HAPPEN! Too much expense involved with just going somewhere like New York, Dallas, Canada, Hawaii, etc. on spec. Plus, I have no money for trips like that. Next idea...
2) If you have a job or know someone that does, chances are you MAY be working for a company that has some sort of annual events like picnics, holiday parties, or even trade shows and sales meetings. Think back. Did you ever actually go to one of these things? I thought you might have. Remember the band that was playing, the ambient entertainment at the party, the hoopla and production that went into your annual meeting or trade show? Well THAT is the sort of thing I do and YOU can actually mention my name to the folks at work who plan these sorts of things. You may even want to bring up a bigger show, like The Vegas Brothers if they want a full package.
I can do hour long stage shows, attract customers to your booth, use my Plate Spinning Act to teach proper time management at the managers meeting, or do strolling entertainment at the party. All this is easily explained at my main website and you can certainly pass that info along to the desperate folks trying to plan these events. I'd even send you a complete press kit and DVD of the act to make things easier. Hell, e-mail me the name and address of the person to send this stuff to and I'll do it myself. Anyone who gets me work would certainly get a commission check or at the very least some Flying Penguinis as a thank you.
3) Are YOU in the entertainment business? Do YOU know of some reliable agencies or reputable production companies that would benefit from having my name in their roster of talent? Please, send me their information and I'll happily send them a cornucopia of Andy-centric information in the hopes that they'll book me. I would certainly do the same for you if you're looking for work in my area.
I've found that recommendations from acts the agents use & trust works much better than simply trying to get in with the guys based on your promo material and winning personality. These folks are fickle and really only use the same 10 or 15 people over & over again until they need someone new or are told about someone good by those 10 or 15 folks.
As an example, I posted a link to one Mr. Bud Buckley on my main website's "Strategic Partners" page. An agent friend on mine, Marc Schultz, of the Howard Schultz Theatrical Agency, saw the link and figured if I was recommending him so highly he'd call him up and get his material on file. Marc books mostly in Chicago but does a fair amount of things nationally, as well as cruise ships, and the like. I cannot say if Marc intends to book Bud after receiving the materials(I'm assuming he sent him some promo...Bud???), but I can say that Marc has used many of the acts I've referred and he at least let me know that he felt like listening to Bud after reading my recommendation. That's a good deal for us all. Bud has been equally as kind about plugging my work and perhaps one day I'll be in Florida juggling my little heart out. People helping people are the greatest people...
4) Do you live near a theatre or comedy club? Would you like to see Andy Martello or The Fabulous Vegas Brothers appearing at those venues? See idea number two and proceed from there.
5) Hey! Here's an idea. YOU have an event that needs some kick-ass entertainment. I'm thinking if you threw some sort of party and called me, Bud, Deni, and other blogger/entertainer types, we might figure out a way to make something happen. I know I give great prices to my friends. Hell, I'm working one event this year for MUSTARD! How about some kind of blog summit? Let's get lots of our favorite bloggers together for a party and have blogging performers provide the entertainment. See? This can work.
Just Added! Wish Upon a Star Benefit, July 2, 10:30 PM at Leo's Bar & Grill in Romeoville
Here are the details. Come on out if you're in the area.
I: 2PM – 3:30PM
A: CAR SHOW
B: EVENT ATTRACTION
II: 3:30PM – 4:30PM
A: CAR SHOW JUDGING AND AWARDS
(Judged by Audience.)
III: 4:00PM – 8:30PM - ALL AGES
A: NATOMA BREATHES
C: TEN MINUTE VISION
D: ABSOLUTELY PERFECT
IV: 8:30PM – 9PM
A: DISMISS UNDERAGE PATRONS
V: 9PM – 10:30PM
A: THE VOODOO PUGS
“ROLLING STONES TRIBUTE”
VI: 10:30PM – 11:30PM
A: COMIC JUGGLER ANDY MARTELLO
VII: 11:30PM – 1AM
A: THE VOODOO PUGS
“ROLLING STONES TRIBUTE”
Giveaways take place between 5pm and 11:30pm
Food available between 3pm and 11pm
$8 tickets in advance - $10 at the door
Wristbands will be provided for all 21 and up
Leo's Bar & Grill is located at 201 East Romeo Rd.Romeoville, IL.Just 2 blocks East of Route 53. For more info call Leo's(815) 886-5600
Additional info available at
After Being Surrounded By Naked Women, I'm Even More Happy to Wear the Emperor's New Clothes
It is always nice to see that someone appreciates reading my blog, though I can't imagine why anyone would.
It is even more pleasing to see that someone not only appreciates my blog, but appreciates FREE STUFF!
What you're looking at here is the most recent of a string of Andy Land fan pics. This one is from the lovely and talented Ma of Tutu Bents Hale. She's been wanting some Flying Penguinis something bad and saw that there was a simple way to bring the little buggers into her life.
Apparently, this newest member of the Penguini Posse has dubbed me the EMPEROR of Penguinis. Who am I to argue?
Many thanks, Ma. Your package will be in the mail tomorrow.
I'm Surrounded By Naked Women!
Thanks to the good folks at the Fu-Qtoo Blog, I'm surrounded by naked women!
They were kind enough to make me one of their Sites of the Day and link over here. Since they also feature LOTS of lovely naked ladies on that site, I'm very pleased to be surrounded.
So head on over there and read their blog. Don't forget to buy some Andy Martello-inspired T-Shirts from their main site.
WHEW! Done for Now
I finally got the promo video done for my friend. Now I can try to get caught up on housework, blogging, and all that crap.
I guess I've gone on long enough by now that finishing any of my Birthday Week stories would be pointless. So let me just say that We went to lots of fun places in the Wisconsin Dells, I made a few business contacts, and a few days later we went to the St. Louis Zoo to see my all-time favorite penguin exhibit.
Speaking of penguins, I forgot to mention that now playing in theatres (if you can find the damn thing) is supposed to be one of the best documentaries of all time, "March of the Penguins".
Penguins are making quite a year for themselves. They play a big part in the animated, "Madagascar" flick. They've got this documentary out. Nicole Kidman is voicing a penguin character in an upcoming film, "Happy Feet". Yep, penguins are mighty popular and I dare say it is all because of ME!
Almost There. Stay On Target
It really does take several hours, leading up to a few days to edit together five to seven minutes of video.
It takes even longer when you don't have a solid idea or storyboard of what you want, or at least have a good catalogue of the footage you do have in the hopper.
It really can take some time if you get a better idea for a scene and retrofit that into the project.
It seem to take forever when you've been working on the thing for nearly 11 hours straight and then you realize you MUST get a few hours of sleep.
In any event, I should be done with this first video project today and I can get caught up on some blog reading and blog posting.
Love My New Video Software, Hate Wasting Time
It takes some time to get the bugs worked out of any new techno-crap like editing software. Being an impatient guy who wants to just GO and not read the manual, it can take a LITTLE longer to get moving.
Of course, I'm already fairly well-versed in video editing software so using the tutorials and light reading of the manual is pretty darn helpful. What I don't like...
- Having a question based on what appears to be a COMMON problem & being told to go to the online help source or consult the manual & tutorial...when all of those things don't answer the question. Of course, if I'd like to pay for technical support & find out that the answer is one click away I get a little angry. Many hours wasted trying to get my video software to extract video from my video camera.
- Knowing exactly what footage I want to use, knowing I made note of that tape where the footage lives, and putting it in a place where I wouldn't lose it only to be unable to find the tape when I need it most. Several hours wasted looking for about 5 seconds of footage.
- Bumping my way through a project & getting better along the way. So much better, in fact, that as I improve I end up going back to the beginning and trying to use the new skills on the old idea (which generally isn't as good as the original idea).
- Once in the groove of creating, I lose track of time and work til 2:30 AM on what has amounted to be about 90 seconds of finished film (I'm told I'm ahead of schedule). This really doesn't bother me as I'm a creative type and I can't tell the creativity when to arrive. I SHOULD be able to tell it that when I'm in bed trying to sleep, the ONLY THOUGHTS in my head should NOT be about the damn project. I was half asleep all night.
- I won't be able to blog much more until all is completed.
Rest assured, this project (a five-minute promo for a comedy/variety group I know) will be essential in getting more work. Already I'm jamming on the look and feel of the thing and it should be one excellent marketing piece. A better piece will be made when better footage is available. For now, I remain confident in my ability to make "nothing" look like "something special".
I will finish the Birthday Week stories and all that. I promise.
Busy this Weekend
I'm installing new video editing software, making sure my replacement printer works well, etc. NO POST FOR YOU!
Read the Father's Day Trilogy or better yet, tell OTHER PEOPLE to read the pieces. I'll never build an audience at this rate. ZEESH!
You can also get caught up on all other fascinating Andy Martello news by reading through the archives. I'm sure you weren't all here from the beginning. ;)
Saying Goodbye to a Friend
One of the best-traveled and most entertaining blogs on the net is shutting it's doors the week of June 25th. I wish this weren't the case as they have reached MILLIONS as well as showcased my writing for a long time now. Some of his stats...
70,000 visitors per day (up from 15,000 only one year ago) with the average visitor count per hour of 2,956
E-Pauly.com is closing shop. I guess Paul got a bit tired of all the work involved with running a successful blog. I am confident he didn't get tired of all the visits to the Roadhouse!
In any event, Paul is going away. I would strongly urge anyone wanting to try and capture some of his wide and varied audience (maybe someone with an online magazine that needs MILLIONS of readers) to contact Paul and glean some of his secrets, purchase the domain and have it refer people to your site, etc.. At the very least, check out his site and tell him how damn much fun it has been to read.
I'll miss his site and all the traffic it brought to my work. With hope, some folks will continue to visit me and read my columns. So long, Paul!
The Father's Day Trilogy, This Month at MBC!
It is always amazing what a little whining and paranoid behavior can do. I now have for you, the discerning reader, links to The Father's Day Trilogy, available throughout the month of June at Malicious Bitch.
Although these were all featured in The Cheers last year, I felt that they deserved a second look in the pages of MBC, where the readership seems to be larger, smarter, and certainly better looking. ;)
Plus I've been too depressed and lazy to write anything new.
These three pieces are, in my opinion, among my finest works to date. A few overly-used exclamation points aside, they will always be among my favorite columns. They stand well individually or if read as a trilogy.
I can say without any arrogance or bravado that these pieces should make you laugh, make you cry (or suppress tears like any REAL MAN would do), and most of all, make you remember that Father's Day is June 19th. If you had a dad that wasn't a total jerk, you may just want to give him a call. Or, remember him fondly if he's gone, like my family has to do every day.
It is my sincerest hope that you will read them, my even larger desire that you will enjoy them, and my complete and total fear that you will find them to suck royal ass (I, of course don't really mind if you do...Just break it to me gently.). All that being said, I hope you check them out and maybe even e-mail the articles to some friends, your own fathers, or anyone that has not yet discovered a fine publication like Malicious Bitch.
"A Father's Wisdom: The $25.00 Monkey" (Part One)
"Father's Day My Ass!" (Part Two)
"Parting Gifts" (Part Three)
What Goes Well with SPAM???
You may be wondering, after a very long and fun-filled first day with my wife, how could I top a trip to a cave, a casino and of course, the SPAM Museum? Well if you shorten the question a bit you get, "How could I top SPAM?" One "topping" comes to mind and you can find THOUSANDS of varieties of that special topping at...
Oh yeah, baby! That's what I'm talkin' about...The Mount Horeb Mustard Museum!
You may have seen them mentioned or profiled on many a Food Network special, in magazines, or even heard tell of this magnificent place from people fortunate enough to have been there. If not, gather 'round, kiddies cuz you're gonna learn something GOOD!
April and I got to check out this museum of many mustards last year. We enjoyed the place so much we made a couple of subsequent trips. Each trip found us leaving the store with anywhere from $50.00 to $100.00 worth of delectable mustards from around the globe.
I have always been a mustard guy. For me, ketchup is for your French Fires, hash browns, just about any fried potato. It is NOT EVER
for your hot dogs. It CAN
be for your hamburgers. It should not otherwise be discussed, especially when in the presence of the best damned condiment ever devised, MUSTARD!
You can imagine that any place called The Mustard Museum would be quite a treat for me.
Indeed, The Mount Horeb Mustard Museum is a treat for just about anyone. Started as a hobby (to forget the pain of multiple Red Sox World Series losses), the Mustard Museum evolved as a haven for over 4,000 different jars & varieties of mustard in the world's largest, if not the only collection of mustards in the world. It is now among the silliest and happiest places on Earth.
The Museum collection of mustards from days gone by and current classics is free for all to see. Honestly, who needs to look at the history of mustards throughout the ages when the hundreds, if not thousands of varieties available for tasting and purchase within the store is more than enough to impress the mustard fan in all of us.
April was never a mustard person. Our first trip had her doubting I'd EVER use all of the jars of mustards I'd purchased. Then I introduced her to the culinary marriage of mustard with cheese (arguably, her favorite food). Add some wine and fruit and before too long we were out of mustard. Our next trip had her finding flavors of her own and some damn good ones to boot.
Since I cook a lot and come up with many good recipes around here, I began to take full advantage of the mustardy goodness found at our trips to the Museum and used more and more mustards in my meals. By the time we headed out to The Mustard Museum for my Birthday Week we had only a few jars of mustard left in the old fridge. Clearly we needed MORE!
This time around brought home some amazing taste sensations like Oktoberfest beer mustard, garlic & wine mustard, huckleberry mustard, and many more. You are free to taste every single variety they offer for purchase before you buy and everyone working there is an expert on the subject.
When I get my scanner back I'll be sure to show you some of the labels and varieties. Until then I can't recommend HIGHLY ENOUGH
that you visit the Mustard Museum website
and the shop itself, should you be in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin any time soon. You'll find that the folks there have a great sense of humor and are eager to make mustard-believers out of you.
I also have it on good authority that yours truly will be performing at this year's annual National Mustard Day celebration on Saturday August 6, 2005. Put that baby on your calendars because I am going to try and really do something special for these folks. I'm even willing to take some of my fee in mustard!
Labels: Mount Horeb Mustard Museum, National Mustard Museum, SPAM
Printer Woes Soon Over (I Hope!)
So I made a follow-up phone call to Best Buy only to find out that my printer part can't be replaced and I HAVE to buy a new printer. Not good news at all, resulting in a greater if not severe disliking for Best Buy, a company I'd never had any problems with prior to this incident.
Then I remembered that about six months back I called HP directly to resolve a driver issue I had. During that call I purchased a one-year extended warranty directly from them.
A quick phone call to HP to make sure I'm not remembering things incorrectly resulted in a greater love for HP. Indeed I have an extended warranty through the manufacturer and they would be DELIGHTED to send me a brand new machine to replace the old one. They even apologized for the first machine breaking, citing that my particular model had been one of their most reliable.
WOO-HOO! I should get the new machine in a day or two and once I get the old one back to send to HP, I'm back in bidniss and I'm only out the $25.00 I spent to have the Best Buy folks take a look at my machine. The nasty letter I sent to Best Buy complaining of their ridiculous service plan renewal should result in some sort of "we're so sorry" bribery on their part and I'll be even happier!
Later today...More stories from Birthday Week!
I Hate Being Made to Look Foolish
I'll continue with Birthday Week Stories later. First, I gotta vent a bit about something that happened tonight. Long post. Sorry.
Earlier in the day the next door neighbors, quite actually the folks in the apartment immediately to my left, were banging and pounding on the doors and walls so much that at one point I thought they were trying to break through my front door. When I went out to see what the hell was going on I heard lots and lots of yelling and arguing from the apartment. I assume they were arguing. I don't speak Spanish, but I do speak hostility.
HOURS later, the incessant banging and noises are continuing and shaking the walls, bowing my door, and generally causing a lot of unnecessary tension around here. Once again I stormed out to see what the hell was going on. This time I found the door to the neighboring apartment was CLEARLY broken. The door jam was cracked and the molding around the door was falling off the wall.
I rarely do much about these sorts of things as experience has taught me that I'll end up being the one to get shit upon later, but I called the police.
I described the noises, the banging, and the now broken door. I did over-emphasize how broken the door was, but I did try to clarify to the 911 attendant about the actual status of the thing. I gave my name and address and all the pertinent info. I even described, in detail, which apartment the disturbance was coming from. I did not say I thought it came from some where, I told them this WAS where it was coming from. I even told the guy that it is the only apartment NEXT TO my apartment, #207. I'd forgotten that the numbers here went even on one side and odd on the other, but things like "the broken door immediately next to my apartment" should be enough to get the officers to know who to call upon. It wasn't.
They knocked on the door of the apartment ACROSS FROM mine, only to find a peaceful and confused non-English-speaking family, which made the officers mad enough to bang on my door wanting to know what the hell was up.
I had to explain to the that, yes, I was the person who called 911 and that there was in fact many banging sounds, yelling sounds, and damage done to the apartment next to in. I had to explain this to them because in the time it took for the cops to get to my building the folks next door slipped the molding and the door jam back into their holes and shut the door, making everything appear, at a glance, to be fine.
The officer even sarcastically asked me to explain which apartment I "thought" the disturbance came from and went on to joke about how the door looked great. "I've seen much worse carpentry before." What a condescending bitch!
I had to go on and on explaining all the crap that had been going on all damn day and I doubt she ever thought I was serious. Another tenant came out of her apartment (she was NEXT TO the already upset person ACROSS FROM my apartment (you know...next to the place they mistakenly called upon first). Thankfully, this person came out and immediately asked if they were there because of all the banging and screaming going on, which helped me a little.
The officers wanted to know where we both "thought" the sounds were coming from and were kind enough to tell the other tenant, "Well HE called us and SHE (the gal in the first apartment they WEREN'T supposed to talk to) is just fine." Great. Tell the whole fucking world I'm the guy with the quick 911-dialing finger. I'm sure that won't incur any wrath from the folks breaking their fucking doors at will.
Now I would have assumed, given that there were only FOUR apartments in this vicinity of the alleged disturbance, that MAYBE the guy calling the police, the "fine" neighbor, and the other tenant complaining about banging and screaming wouldn't have to tell the PROFESSIONAL CRIME FIGHTERS which door to actually knock on, but indeed we did have to point to the apartment NEXT TO mine. One of the THREE officers in attendance suggested, "Why don't we knock?" GENIUS!
Of course, no knocking occurred. First we had to answer questions about what we "thought" we heard, where we "thought" we heard it, and if we knew who lived in the apartment NEXT TO mine. Basically I told them I don't know any of my neighbors that well. I didn't tell them it had something to do with the fact that I don't speak Spanish and they don't speak English. That would have confused things. The other tenant, one who does speak both Spanish and English fluently, told them that all she knows is that there are a lot of people coming and going in and out of that apartment every day. THAT was apparently the thing that caused our heroes to SPRING into action.
The officers snidely thanked us for "all our help" and proceeded to very politely knock on the seemingly UNBROKEN door. I'd already gone back in my apartment and contemplated busting a door myself just so they could see one for comparison's sake. I can only assume that upon knocking they may have seen the molding and door jam move or something because they knocked again, this time a little less politely. When nobody answered they banged the ever-living shit out of the door, which I found a bit ironic, seeing as how banging on doors and such is what started this mess.
I guess somebody answered after that because I heard the officer talk to someone asking questions about what happened here and so on. The tone was bit sarcastic which I liked, but it didn't sound like anything was being resolved and nobody was being reprimanded for property damage, disturbing the peace, or at the very least, causing three officers to waste their time talking to everyone BUT the people causing the problems for so damned long.
I have no idea what the outcome of the situation was, other than the fact that I ended up looking like a lying, foolish asshole. Oh wait, I forgot, I also looked like a total NARC to most of my floor, including the folks who live NEXT TO me and apparently didn't have any real explaining to do to anyone tonight. So now I fully expect to get robbed, have my car fucked with, and even more Spanish insults towards me and cat-calls towards my wife. She's already afraid that they'll break in (they are proficient at fucking up the doors around here) and harm her cat, Phil. Ya-fucking-Hoo.
Thanks, Carol Stream Police. Thanks, illegal alien neighbors with the hatred for doors, walls, and apparently your many hoochie girlfriends that talk back to you at inopportune times. Thanks to all the people out there who raised me to try and do the right thing once in awhile to protect my home and family. Thanks a million.
I should have remembered that there's absolutely no good that can come from calling the authorities if you're in trouble.
When I was very young, two neighbor kids SET FIRE to one of the barns on our property. Naturally we called the fire department and the police. Yes the kids had something of a criminal record locally, but nothing ever happened to them. WHO do you think got harassing phone calls, threats of violence, daily screams of "FUCKERS" from cars driving by, and regular random acts of vandalism for almost TEN YEARS afterwards? Yep, it was US who got all the shit from THEM. We never held a grudge or threatened anyone. We just had an annoying habit of NOT wanting someone to commit ARSON on our property without permission, but somehow we had to deal with years of crap. Oddly, nobody ever did a thing to discipline the folks with the mild criminal record.
That should have served as a fine example of why calling the police doesn't really help, unless you've got a knife in your head at the time.
I should fucking start looking for a new apartment now.
After enjoying more SPAM than anyone could ever imagine and being surrounded by cave vaginas, we headed back to Wisconsin to continue the first day of Birthday Week.
Minnesota was absolutely breathtaking to look at. We ended up taking a state highway back to the interstate leading towards LaCrosse and the scenery was more than spectacular. Since April had never been to Minnesota and I had RARELY ever gotten to enjoy a rain-free birthday celebration, I was so pleased to be among such lovely scenery and atmosphere.
The drive was pleasant enough, but we ended up stopping a bit prematurely before hitting our final destination of the day. Where would we, the sorry and unpredictable travelers end up for an hour or so?
Ho-Chunk Casino, of course!
"Ho-Chunk". Am I talking about the cave vaginas again? No. Ho-Chunk is a fine bingo & casino resort near the Wisconsin Dells. We've been there before and we always have a good time there.
Neither April nor I are big gamblers. We love Las Vegas and we like a little silly wasting of paltry sums of money on games of chance. We had about another hour before hitting our location for the next day's bit of fun and Ho-Chunk seemed like a fine place to take a break.
I think I MAY have spent about $10.00 in total on a few slot machines. Of course I didn't lose a cent. Why? After almost losing the ten-spot I ended up getting myself back to being down five bucks, all on penny slots, which I played for almost the entire hour a little at a time. I was about to finish, comfortable with knowing I'd be down five whole dollars when an announcement came over the P.A.
"If your birthday is in the month of May, this is your LAST CHANCE to get a FREE five dollar birthday present from Ho-Chunk. Head to the customer service center to claim your cash now."
Naturally I went over there to get the details. Sure enough, all I had to do was sign up for their player's club card and they'd give me five bucks. No questions asked. No expectations I'd actually spend the money there. I claimed my fin and finished the day even at the casino.
Next Stop...Niagara Cave
After completing our pilgrimage to the "CRAZY TASTY"
SPAM Museum, it was time to head back towards Wisconsin for the next part of our journey. Of course, being ones to not adhere much to plans when traveling and having a good time, we decided to make a stop in Harmony, Minnesota
so we could check out the Niagara Cave.
I have loved going to caves for many years. April had never been to one until last year. Even though she can get very claustrophobic, she LOVED her first cave experience and it seemed like a grand idea to go to another one. I'd never been to Niagara Cave and since this was April's first visit to Minnesota and only her second cave I knew this would be new to her as well.
I found out there are actually two caves you can visit in this area of Minnesota. We chose the Niagara Cave because it seemed to promote the visit more than the other one and boasted some fascinating things to see inside. Not the least of which is a 60-foot waterfall. Boy are we glad we chose this one.
There is such a calming effect on you when inside a cave. The temperature is always a bit chilly, but soothing. The smell is that of fresh, clean water & limestone. The sounds of water dripping and echoing lightly throughout the system are always enjoyable. And the formations are beyond comprehension. So many randomly-occurring flowstone creations end up resembling easily recognizable objects, like "The Dolphin" found here. There are even formations inside resembling an elephant, a skeletal arm, shark fins, and an old man's face.
How can you NOT enjoy looking at the magnificent Earthly creations found within a cave? They are just breathtaking to behold.
This tour gives you quite a workout as you end up walking about 500 stairs, back & forth throughout the cave. You end up walking a good couple of miles I'd say. Of course, if you're in to this sort of thing, the tour could traverse 20 miles and it would be over too soon.
We were fortunate enough to only have one other person on our tour so it was as if the entire cave was our own.
Maybe it has something to do with the air or the ambiance, but caves are very romantic I must say.
Of course, maybe it has something to do with the fact that so many formations look like giant vaginas.Don't believe me?
Behold! The first of MANY
different vaginal formations we encountered inside Niagara Cave.
I have way too many photos of the cave to share here. I'd say about 20 of them are different forms of, to quote The Very Famous Lance Vegas
, "The Va-Geeje"
. It got to be kind of funny after awhile. I may have to do a separate blog post to prove my pint here. For now, simply take my word for it. Lots of Hoo-Ha in the Niagara Cave.
Now don't think I saw anything remotely feminine in these formations. April was the first to point out any strange vaginal resemblances here.
I am from Chicago and I don't see things like that when I look at stains and crevices formed by nature. No, I see the Virgin Mary.
Anyway, as I said we had a most excellent time at the cave. The tour was not very expensive and the memories are absolutely priceless. Caves are among the most unusual and fascinating things our planet can create. If you haven't visited any then you are really missing out on life.
Incidentally, you can see much more than giant vaginas inside a cave. In fact, the Niagara Cave likes to exploit both sexes equally.
For the ladies in da house, to paraphrase Monty Python, "here's a gratuitous picture of penises"
found inside the cave. I have some better ones, but I'll save those for the separate post, fully shocking and amazing you all.
It is quite amazing what you can find inside a cave. What surprised me the most was that a little exploring provided me with an image of one GIGANTIC PRICK!
Stay tuned, kids! I still haven't completed day one of our journey!
Labels: Niagara Cave, The SPAM Museum
While going through photos for the last few posts, I came across some pics from a recent trip to Volo Bog. In there was this photo.
This was some sort of accident because I didn't pose for it and I have no recollection of hitting the button on the camera, except as an accident. I figured I could delete the image later since this was a digital camera.
As it happens this is just about the best damn photograph ever taken of me.
If I ever did get a book published, this would likely be the dust cover picutre.
I got to messing around with some of the gadgetry on my computer and decided to turn the image into a playful litle experiment.
I call it, "Andy: Warhol"
Holy Crap! It's the SPAM Museum!
That's right, you heard me, THE SPAM MUSEUM! I don't know where YOU thought I'd be kicking off my Birthday Week, but I can't imagine why anyone would want to go anywhere else to celebrate such an occasion!
We drove on the 30th for as long as we could, heading north into Wisconsin. Our destination? Austin, Minnesota to bask in the porcine goodness that is the SPAM Museum.
Of course, lack of sleep and several deer throwing themselves in front of my car made me pull off in Sparta for the night. However, Sparta seems damn cool in it's own right and I'm glad I stopped because NOW I have another fun place to go with April some day!
As strange as this will sound, April & I have been wanting to check out the SPAM Museum for a few years now.
My original intent was to be there for the grand opening because my hero, Joe Walsh, was scheduled to play. He cancelled and I never went.
As time went by our desire to check out the SPAMMY goodness grew.
Simply put, the SPAM Museum is one of the most excellent chunks of Americana around.
There is no admission so it already has my attention. It celebrates a product rich in history, maligned by people everywhere, and yet loved by BILLIONS worldwide. It is also one place that NEVER takes itself too seriously and you know I am all bout that!
SPAM is just one of those products. Life would be hard to imagine had it not come about. Think about it, SPAM has been a part of our lives for DECADES. Vegetarians may not understand nor would they care to, but SPAM helped keep this nation and others ALIVE during World War II. At the SPAM Museum you learn about the history of the product, the ways it fed the world and the military during our toughest times.
You also learn that Hawaii is the single largest consumer of SPAM on the planet! I'm sure that Doyle, Christine, and Ma would have a few fine recipes to share with us. LOL!
What else is there at the SPAM Museum? Well I'd say that a campy, semi-animated puppet show giving a brief "This is Your Life" style tale of SPAM would certainly be something to grab your attention.
You can also play a SPAM trivia game that is held inside it's very own simulated TV studio. I imagine this place is HOPPIN' when there are large touring groups sitting in the studio audience.
You can play SPAM games, listen to radio and TV spots, see movies, get recipes from around the world, listen to SPAM songs, sample different varieties of SPAM, and of course...SHOP! They have one kick-ass gift shop.
Yessir, there sure is a lot to see once you walk through these doors.
Of course, I must be forgetting SOMETHING.
There's an interactive SPAM internet cafe where you can sign up for the SPAM fan club, but that's not all that important to mention.
OH YEAH! I remember now!
At the end of the tour you can sit in a replica of the set used during Monty Python's famous "SPAM Sketch"! There's a TV playing the sketch on a continuous loop, a giant Viking, chairs, a sign for the cafe, and all the hilarity that accompanies Python and SPAM. It is the PERFECT photo opportunity for freaks like you and me!
You can even get your own can of the limited edition SPAMALOT variety of SPAM. How freakin' cool is that?
I would recommend the SPAM Museum to anyone with a sense of humor and a love for canned spiced ham. And yes, they do tell you ALL of the ingredients inside a can of SPAM.
As you can see, I certainly enjoyed our first stop during Birthday Week. Of course, there is so much more to tell you!
Labels: SPAM, The SPAM Museum
Driving, Performing, & More Driving
Carol Stream...Ann Arbor...Akron...Cleveland...Toledo...Ann Arbor (for sleep)...Kenosha (to watch The Vegas Brothers)...back home to Carol Stream, all within a few days.
Then, my birthday!
Miraculously it did not rain on my birthday. In fact, it did not rain during all of the celebratory parts of "Birthday Week". I've never had more beautiful weather during any portion of my birthday celebrations and I couldn't have been happier about it.
Unfortunately I was so damned tired and April was stuck at work all day so I couldn't do much of anything to enjoy the day. I did get treated to breakfast at the Olde North Pancake House, a most excellent breakfast place. Even though I was panicking about my complete lack of gigs and money, April assured me life would be OK soon. April also bought me one of my favorite sweet foods, the HAMBURGER CAKE!
I'd intended to have a photo of the hamburger cake to share with you but I ate the damned thing before I could take a photo. It is simply a cake shaped and decorated like a hamburger. Lots of tasty frosting and cuteness all rolled into one delicious cake. They used to make them in actual hamburger-sized cakes, but now I can only get them in BIG cakes. Oh, well...more cake for me!
Once April got back from work we set off for some Birthday Week fun. She had the next couple of days off and we weren't going to waste them. I could have done without the driving since I'd already put so many damn miles under my feet, but fun is fun! Besides, April was planning on spending all the cash for fun on ME so who was I to argue?
Let's Play "Catch Up"
OK, I'm back in town and for the most part, rested enough to play a game of "Catch Up" with you regarding my travels, my shows, & my "Birthday Week".
First I went away to do some shows in Ohio. I left early in order to hook up with my brother and take in a Whitecaps game in Michigan, which was most excellent! Minor League Baseball and all of the Independent & College Wood Bat leagues are the ONLY ways to go if you're a true baseball fan. FUCK the Majors!
Next it was off to Akron, Ohio to do an absolutely dreadful show in a hot, echo-chamber of a gymnasium. It was one of those sunken gyms and the crowd was a good 20 feet above the actual show. To make things worse they were on opposite ends of the performance area and not a single person was in front of the action. I always hate these performing conditions, but I love paychecks and therefore, shut the hell up about them.
I did get to see my cousin and my aunt while traversing through Ohio and that is always a treat. They spent way too much money on food and drinks for me and were extremely accommodating. I don't get to see them often enough.
The next day had two shows in a beautiful old theatre in Cleveland. I was hoping to meet Kim and some of her family at one of the shows, but figured she'd be busy elsewhere. Those shows went very well and I can never say enough about the fun I have at great old theatres. This one is always being renovated a bit at a time every year and since I haven't been there in a while it is was fun to see what had been fixed in my absence.
After the shows I got some Don Hermann & Sons dill pickles (the BEST dill pickles on Earth and ONLY available in the Cleveland area), made a stop in the Toledo area to buy some Tony Packo's hot dogs for my freezer (The BEST non-Chicago hot dogs on Earth, only available in the Toledo area), and head on home for more shows.
I Replaced My Belt, Now My Printer Needs a New Belt!
Belts are all the rage around here today. I had to go and replace an old belt I was wearing today. Not too soon thereafter the belt on my printer went kaput! Now I'm stuck without any printing capabilities for a few weeks. I may crack under the pressure and buy another machine before I get the old one back.
This drives me nuts because I LOVE my printer and used it for promo, photos, etc. a lot. What burns my beans is that last month my service plan on the thing expired. I'd intended to renew but Best Buy did not allow for the possibility of renewing the service plan on my Best Buy card. I had no intention of putting it on some other card so I let it expire. Then...POOF! No printer.
Ah well, that's life I guess.
I'll have some fun stuff about the many recent trips and a recap of "Birthday Week" later today. Until then, go read, "A Father's Wisdom: The $25.00 Monkey" at MBC this week. Maybe one day I'll have a direct link to that article to give ya. ;)
Gig Today. Drive Tonight. Back Wednesday.
We're extending "Birthday Week" by a day or two and heading down to St. Louis later tonight. I'll be enjoying tomorrow at the St. Louis Zoo and soaking in the penguiny goodness of the best damn penguin exhibit I've ever seen. They've also got a Hippoquarium-like thing and a way-fun Lorikeet display. I love that damn place and it will be one great way for me to keep the birthday fun a rolling.
There will be many photos, links, and details of the week's worth of activities after that. Lots of stuff to discuss so be sure to stick around.
Until then, be sure to head on out to Malicious Bitch and read the first of three Father's Day columns, "A Father's Wisdom: The $25.00 Monkey". I've given new life to "The Father's Day Trilogy" and you can read them in order over the next three weeks there. Great pieces, all, and I'm very proud of them.
One Birthday Present I'll ALWAYS Treasure!
I'm sorry for the dearth of posts of late, but as you know, I'm in the midst of celebrating "Birthday Week" around here. I will certainly have some good stories and photos to share later. For now, let me tell you about one little present I received this week. This is something I've been wanting for a LONG time!
I FINALLY got my letter from the I.R.S. declaring a "NO CHANGE" to my 2003 tax return. It came in the mail yesterday and I couldn't be happier!
Honestly, I had such a great time with April over the week that the paranoia inside me was looking around the corner for the bad news that often accompanies any good fortune I enjoy. I saw that envelope from the I.R.S. and I was certain the hammer was about to fall. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised and more importantly, RELIEVED!
This is excellent news because now I've got a good two to three year window if they gub-mint decides to audit me again. I can go in, explain that I've now been through this process twice and have had a "NO CHANGE", showing that I'm doing my duty as a good & proper tax payer. More often than not, going in with a "NO CHANGE" gets your audit tossed away and you can go about your life.
It was possibly the happiest of birthday presents I could have received.