Yeah, I know that there are not as many readers as there once were (my fault). I'm aware that I haven't posted nearly as many "brilliant" or "interesting" things as I have in the past (was I ever brilliant or interesting?) Sure, even though Blogger (a Google product) is better for getting things into the searches, I realize many more people are using Word Press these days.
The important thing is that I have managed to get off my duff and return to blogging as promised. This represents one full month of blog posts and for me, it's a minor victory.
Activity breeds followers by increasing internet presence and boosting your name in the search engines. All of this can lead to more work and better promotion of my various projects. Mostly it means that I did in fact make sure to take a little time from my day and write again. That's very important, especially since I need to finish the final revisions of my book and get it ready for editing and publishing this year (It will happen in 2012. I know it!).
If nothing else I managed to get some dude angry enough to force me to disable reader comments for now. I must be doing something right. ;)
I'm hoping that my day job at The Price is Right Live! keeps me busy and happy for many years. That being said, the opportunity to take vacations diminishes greatly with this job. Not a big deal. I've had many and I've had none at different points throughout my career and I know how to amuse myself quite well.
I do manage to get a couple of days off a week and can be on a plane or in a car headed to somewhere every Sunday at 4:30. So...
I'm hoping to make brief trips at least once a month throughout the year. With luck I'll be able to do this once a month and not ruin the money I'll be making from the show nor the savings I'm trying to build.
Some of the places I plan to visit will be places I've been before. Others will be new to me. Sometimes I hope to visit friends. Other times I hope to make new ones.
This month I head to Phoenix, AZ to visit friends and enjoy a little r&r in a familiar location. Next month...who knows? Locations I hope to enjoy in my two-day increments include...
Memphis Nashville San Francisco San Antonio Portland Orlando ??????
Down the road, I'm hoping and praying that this is the year I get my book published and spend my days off on a book tour, signing & selling books, seeing the world, and truly living a dream—a good dream, that is.
I was completely unaware that yesterday was Penguin Awareness Day. I didn't even know there was such a day. Of course, I'm always aware of penguins so no big deal. An extra day of penguin fun is good for anyone.
But were you aware of the senseless slaughter of penguins going on in Las Vegas?
I'm sorry to report that countless (and extremely rare) Gargantuan Penguins, native to the Nevada desert have been found dead across the Las Vegas Valley. The official report is that they died of natural causes, but it has been rumored that fowl play is to blame. Natural causes? What penguin is found hanging about in a casino now that the penguins are gone from the Flamingo Hotel? Harumph!
Here you see the County's Penguin Coroner examining the corpse of the elusive Gargantuan Penguin.
When I was there, I managed to find one lone Gargantuan Penguin still alive and desperate for escape. Sadly, he later perished gorging himself at the buffet.
OR...maybe these are photos of the workers removing the Christmas decorations at the Bellagio's Conservatory and getting ready for the Chinese New Year. I forget.
Expect one, if not a few, full-length columns from me about this particular subject in the future.
Now, more than ever, I am asked for free tickets to shows. They're simply known as "comps." Being in Las Vegas everyone assumes I have a hook-up for every show in town. I suppose it isn't that hard to believe that I'm friends with every headliner in town. I am awesome after all.
However, while I cannot lay claim to any pull with EVERY show in town, I generally do have limited control over offering comps for shows that I am in . When it is a friend of mine, I am usually happy to offer comps for my own show.
What I am not happy to do is offer comps for a show only to find out that you (my friend) are not going to show up and claim them! These shows are hard enough to sell tickets to, especially since everyone in Las Vegas (the locals) believes they're entitled to free entertainment, even though these same locals never patronize the Strip & Downtown businesses. The shows need to pay their acts, pay for the room, pay for advertisement, pay for maintenance and bar staff—they rely on money coming in to the show in order to stay alive and running.
When you ask for a comp from me or any other entertainer in town, and you then GET that comp, you had BETTER show up to watch the show. We have to ask the producers for the freebies, knowing that there's that much less money coming into their production. To secure a comp and then not show up makes the act look bad adversely affects the show, my relationship with the producer, and the overall experience. Plus, I'll be that much less likely to treat you so nicely in the future. Why offer favors if they're not appreciated.
In short, if you get a free ticket from me or anyone else, show up. When you're there, pay for a drink, a souvenir, SOMETHING to show a little support. It's only right.
Both men recorded individual songs about being poor and having nothing. Both men recorded the song "Busted' and had hits with them. Both men sang together on The Johnny Cash Show in a wonderfully fun duet.
Both men are forever among the all-time greats and favorites of Andy Land.
People get a bit high and mighty when someone covers or remakes a classic song, especially when it was a signature hit for someone else. I tend to believe if the work is of a high quality then it is more than acceptable for the music-loving market.
There will always be the good (Def Leppard covering '20th Century Boy'), the GREAT (Ike & Tina performing 'Proud Mary'), the bad (too many artists doing too many Beatles songs to choose) and the UGLY (Celine Dion singing 'Shook Me All Night Long').
Here is what I believe may be the greatest remake of a song ever. This artist (the one and only Ray Charles) unseats one of my favorite singers, a man who is responsible for many of the greatest remakes ever as well as the greatest original songs—the one and only Johnny Cash.
Please enjoy this truly precious performance of 'Ring of Fire' by Ray Charles on the Johnny Cash Show. It is breath-taking and beautiful. It simply doesn't get any better than this. I'm certain June & Johnny would agree if they could.
A Friendly Reminder: AndyMartello.com is BRAND NEW!
If you haven't been there in awhile for a visit, or if you have never been there at all, please make sure to check out my main website, andymartello.com.
I have always been proud of my website since it truly did attract a lot of customers and was always very popular. Unfortunately, it got a little stale (updates not withstanding) after about 2005, when it was 5 years old. More unfortunate is the fact that I had neither the time nor the money to do a total overhaul.
In 2011 that all changed and a newer, streamlined, ultra-hip andymartello.com was born!
In less than a month's time I have gotten a cool laptop, upgraded my phone to the current whiz-bang-top-of-the heap thing, and now I'm rocking a Blue Tooth device. Of course, I'm not rocking a DOUCHE device like so many self-important Cybermen wannabes out there. Those things are THE WORST!
No, I'm rocking this way cool, around-the-neck headset thing. It also makes for kick-ass stereo headphones too.
If I ever learn how to use it, I'll be a rock star.
Don't forget to check out my column every month in the North Las Vegas Voice newspaper, online or in print. This month's column, Broken Premises is available on page 16 and discusses the many 2011 movie offerings that dealt with things like hot chick bosses sexually harassing ugly dudes (not possible) and hot people needing "f@$! buddies" (also not possible).
I'll be back at my, "day job" tomorrow and you're invited to join the fun!
Come see me perform a little audience warm-up & comedy, reading all the prize copy and saying the three most iconic words in all of game show history, "COME ON DOWN!" at The Price is Right LIVE! Our host from now until April is the one and only Mr. Joey Fatone.
The Price is Right LIVE! is at Bally's Hotel & Casino Wednesdays through Sundays at 2:30 PM.
Tickets are available at the Bally's box office or at the Bally's website. Hope to see you there.
I am very pleased to announce that Sinsation The Show is returning to Las Vegas in a new location. Of course, I am more pleased to say that I will be returning as their featured comedic/variety performer.
Sinsation is a most excellent comedy/burlesque show with music, comedy, beautiful dancers, and of course...yours truly!
You can watch me (OK, you'll probably be watching the girls) during the debut weekend at their new home, The Royal Resort, 99 Convention Center Drive (adjacent to the Strip) in Las Vegas. Don't miss the fun January 13, 14, & 15 at 7:30PM. For tickets please call 702-735-6617 or visit the Sinsation website.
If you take a look at the front page of the Marengo-Union Times this month you'll see a rather familiar face.
NO! Not the kids throwing snowballs! Under them...the guy who looks like me. See? That's me!
In a nice little piece of press from Betsy Wolfe Stemple you can read a lovely career overview and interview with yours truly. It is always nice to get a chance to let the home town crowd know what I'm up to these days and I'm very happy with the article. Who wouldn't like being" a Marengo Comedy Treasure", right?
If you'd like to read it you can head to the Marengo-Union Times website or simply click on the image below. If you like the piece be sure to go to their Facebook, Twitter, or Blogger pages and let them know.
El Rey Club Updates: A Roll of the Dice, a Big Fan (Dancer), and a Good Sign.
I hope you will excuse this long post, but it has been far too long since I've paid any quality attention to this blog, specifically any El Rey Club updates.
Some of the reasons for not adding more to the blog has been due to me finally tackling the chore of writing the book. I actually finished the first draft roughly around October/November of 2010. Since then there have been revisions, new drafts, and the tireless task of trying to find a literary agent and/or publisher. While I can't claim to be at my wit's end regarding my hopes to sell the book, I can say that it is TOUGH getting an agent to take a look at your work. I continue to push forward, I continue to revise as new information comes about, continue to find this book a home, and continue to add to the collection of memorabilia.
The section of this blog (and my El Rey blog) dealing with my collection is sorely out of date as well. This will be rectified whenever I get my scanner back up and running and when I have the time to do all the work. That being said, let's address how exciting the end of 2011/beginning of 2012 has been regarding new El Rey items and information.
If you recall, I'm ALWAYS collecting items like dice, poker chips, advertising items and the like. Truthfully, ANYTHING that survived the years I try to get my hands on somehow and I've had tremendous luck over the years. Among the things I have been hoping to get a hold of are these rare dice, pictured on the right. I was told close to 7 years ago that these were not for sale. That was then.
Some time in 2011 I was able to secure the purchase of the single die on the lower left of the photo. The seller told me he was liquidating his collection and promised me he'd keep me posted if the others came up for sale.
Right after the ball fell and 2011 turned into 2012 I was able to purchase the others in this image at what can only be termed as "a fair price." I pride myself on buying items at a fair price whenever possible, especially in this economy. For me, if I have the money, I want the seller to know I'm honest and eager to preserve the history all while keeping him happy to let something go from his collection (it is harder to do than you think). Plus, I truly believe that for all of the times I don't haggle, even occasionally overpay for something, the karma and good faith comes back to me later on. There have been plenty of items I've received as gifts, as trades, or simply at a better price than others would have paid because of the devotion I've had to this project.
This kind of karma came around for a very special visit!
Right before the New Year began I received a phone call from Mike Madden of Searchlight, NV. He's a long-time resident of the area and his aunt owned the Kaye Motel in Searchlight. He's quite a character and a fixture in Searchlight with many friends and quite a collection of STUFF. By his own definition he is a big-time hoarder.
On the 29th of December he stumbled upon a rather fascinating item and remembered hearing about some random guy interested in all things El Rey Club. It didn't take him long at all to locate me.
He mentioned that he had quite a few copies of newspaper articles pertaining to the El Rey. He had donated the originals years earlier to the Searchlight Museum and thankfully, thought to keep copies for himself.
These articles featured some amazing things. Advertisements for the "Premier Performance" of Peggy DeCastro, stories advertising the filming of Jerry Schafer's Wide Open Spaces, a photo of the very first airplane to arrive at Willie's airport—quite a treasure trove of information that will surely add to the story, if not my workload.
Mike then mentioned he had an original photo of the one and only Sally Rand, used to promote her appearance at the El Rey. You may recall that Rand appeared at the El Rey New Year's weekend in 1960. This photo had a sticker on the back referring to her appearance at the El Rey and her willingness to sign the photo in between performances.
He told me what he had found lying in the desert a few thousand feet from where the El Rey once stood and sent me some photos from his phone. The images really did not help give a better idea of what he had found but his description, along with the promise of "new" archival footage intrigued me enough to plan a visit to Searchlight.
We met at the Searchlight Nugget Casino where he presented me with an envelope with the aforementioned newspaper articles as well as the Sally Rand photo. Needless to say I was already giddy to be holding such a piece of history. It's cool enough to have a new piece of El Rey history in my hands, but something that in all likelihood Sally Rand herself touched? Super-geek moment for me.
He told me I was free to make copies of all the articles for my own collection, which certainly made me very happy. I was afraid to ask, but I told him if he ever felt he could part with the Sally Rand photo I'd be happy to pay a fair price. He smiled and pushed the photo next to me along with all the news clippings and said, "You just take that home with you."
My mind was blown! I insisted on paying him something for the image and he just shook his head and said, that's yours now. Indeed it is! Don't believe me? Here's a photo!
Apologies for the quality of the image. My scanner is out for the moment.
Next it was time to see what he found in the desert. He said he had found a sign, he described it as a billboard, that had some advertising for the El Rey. He described it as pretty large, but I got the impression from the photos he sent that it may have been a Chamber of Commerce sign with many of the local businesses advertised. Regardless, I thought if there were some original advertising from the place that survived after baking in the desert all these years, I would surely want it!
We drove just down the road a spell and then made a very short walk into the desert. Truthfully, it was barely off the edge of the highway. There, face up on the ground, completely invisible from the road and something you'd only find if you happened to be walking past it, was a 12-foot long by 5-foot tall, hand-painted sheet metal sign, faded and sandblasted from nearly 60 years worth of desert weather. The billboard was framed nicely in dried redwood and what remained of the ground posts stuck out from the bottom. A quick glance gives you no reason at all to think anything of it (nor will my own photographs). Closer examination and you can CLEARLY read the block letters...
Open 24 Hours Lovely Scenic Bar EL REY CLUB
Of the items I've managed to get into my collection that clearly fall into the "this just shouldn't exist anymore" category, this has to be on the very top. It once stood alongside Hwy 95 as you headed north about 1500-2000 feet away from the El Rey, most probably since the 1950s. It was likely removed to make way for the MASSIVE BIG-TIME BILLBOARD nest to the Terrible's Casino and the McDonalds in Searchlight today. If I were a betting man, I'd wager that the sign was painted by Bob Martello himself.
What's remarkable about this sign, aside from the fact that it survived in the first place, was the relatively great condition it was in. Very little rust outside from the many nails and bolts holding the sign together. Some original paint and colors are visible. There are NO bullet holes, NO graffiti, nor any of the typical damage (aside from weather wear) you'd find in a small, remote town on an ancient, forgotten road sign. Quite possibly...the find of the century for me!
Mike was describing ways to get it free from its desert home and had even taken time to cover it in plastic so no further damage would happen. We both felt that even one more desert rain could tear away all the history.
I began asking if he wanted a finder's fee or some kind of payment for this great item. Let's face it, no matter how old you are, "Finder's KEEPERS!" can always come into play, especially in a mining town. He just smiled again and said, "How are you going to get this home?"
THAT is the kind of karma I'm talking about. I've done so much research, worked so hard to learn and preserve history, and spent the kind of money on "junk" that only people with silly hobbies can justify, and when it has mattered the most, great gestures of kindness and generosity come along to offset the effort and expense. These gifts have come from Willie's family, other collectors,interview subjects, and now from a guy I'd only met an hour previously. Just like that, I had not one, but two pieces of El Rey history that simply shouldn't have survived the years. The big payment that Mike accepted? One cold bottle of beer.
While the patina that comes from antiquity is very cool, I've decided one of my goals for the year is to get the sign fully restored. If all goes well, I'll get it on American Restoration and make it so it looks the way it did along that Nevada highway and hang it on my wall. Maybe even commission a miniature version that I can bring to shows and future book signings. Who knows?
So there's more than enough El Rey update to satisfy your curious soul. I still revise and expand upon the book while waiting for a YAY or NAY from a publisher that has stressed a serious interest in the book. I know I've had some amazing luck with this silly, remarkable hobby and believe me when I say I am truly grateful. I'm choosing not to look at this recent burst of El Rey-centric fun as mere luck, but quite literally, a good "sign" that this will be a great year.
While many of the El Rey posts have been temporarily removed from the blog to protect the upcoming book, you may still get caught up on a lot of the El Rey Club news by clicking HERE or HERE.
If YOU are a literary agent or publisher looking for a fascinating page-turner to release, or someone with information or artifacts relating to Willie Martello's El Rey Club, contact me immediately at 702-465-5604 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Hard to believe, but the video of me spinning plates on WGN along with comedian/actor, Anthony Anderson is 100 away from hitting the 25,000 views mark on YouTube.
Sure, I know that in this age of viral videos and the like, 25,000 is no big deal. That being said, I'm mighty proud to say I have one of the most popular plate-spinning videos on YouTube. This particular appearance was a lot of fun as well as a great way to promote just how I can incorporate the plate-spinning routine into a different setting, teaching others how to spin on-site.
I've done this exact thing for some of the biggest companies in the world. Coca-Cola, Boeing, Harley-Davidson, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Bridgestone/Firestone and many others have brought me in as a consultant for on-the-spot training in proper time management, hitting home corporate message points using a permanent eye-catching visual aid. The plate-spinning act continues to surprise me in how it continues to keep me busy.
Please help take this video past the 25,000 mark by watching and sharing the video on your Facebook pages, your blog, or simply by emailing it to your friends. If you find you're having a problem coming up with a killer corporate presentation, then having this video in your mind can't hurt either.
Who knows? If enough people see this one video, perhaps my dream of spinning plates on the David Letterman show (with Dave spinning by my side) can finally come true!
I can't help but realize that I have severely neglected this blog for a very long time. Apologies. Far too much going on in Andy Land to get into right now, but the blog has taken...what's farther away than a back seat? A sub-basement sewage tank? Anyway...
I never make resolutions, but I will try to post something every day, if not every week. Get you caught up and all that.
Until then, please read my first column of 2012 in the North Las Vegas Voice newspaper. "Broken Premises" appears on page 16.
If you like it, don't forget to mention it at their Facebook page. If you don't...just shut the hell up and move on, PUNK! ;)