Actual snow falling from the sky. That’s the sight that greeted me when I opened up the blackout curtains. I know snow is that big of a deal to most but to a California Boy who mostly stayed in the parts of California that don’t snow, it’s a sight.
I worked out in my hotel room and then, because of the aforementioned snow, I went and ran on the treadmill. I then met p with Dan to walk over to the mall to get a bit of that Subway I had scene the night before. Dan and I had a decent lunch in the Mall Food Court and then struck out into downtown Wausau.
The downtown square area is actually really nice and when you can take it in without running to the next building because you’re freezing you ass off, it’s fun to look around.
I went with Dan to get some coffee and then he went to shave. I walked out looking for some place to get a banana or two for later. I caught this great view of The Grand Theater where we were playing from the opposite side of the town square.
I walked a few more blocks to the Downtown Grocers and picked up a couple bananas. Then, in a brilliant move to undo all the good I’d done by exercising, eating good and walking for a bit, I had a small cup of Fat Elvis ice cream from a little sweet shop next door to the grocery place. Fat Elvis is vanilla ice cream with bananas, peanut butter and chocolate. It was decent stuff. Not sure if eating it while walking back to the hotel in the cold and snow was smart, my hands seemed frozen by the end.
I retired to my room for a few hours before the show where I worked on yesterday’s blog post and gathered my things for when it was time to go to the theatre.
Theatre going time arrived and once we, as a cast, walked to the theatre, I headed out with Peggy and Sean to take some puppet photos in front of the theater. Always a fun time coming up with creative ways to try to help promote the show via social media. SOmeone has to do it and it might as well be us.
Tech rehearsal went of after and went well, except we had a problem with the tech for the ‘Usher Brothers’ bit that opens act two, so that bit had to be scrapped for the night.
Dinner was great, all vegetarian fare. A change from most venues. Stuffed Peppers, steamed carrots, potatoes, it was awesome. The Apple and blueberry pies for dessert were amazing too. Almost made you too full to perform, but perform we did.
Nice big crowd in Wausau, WI. They were pumped and rearing to go. Special shout out to the folks who drove in from Minnesota for the show! Wow! They were Cinematic Titanic fans as well. Very cool to meet them.
I felt my improv was a little off last night, but there were some fun structures where I thought I did okay. The ‘New Choice’ scene with Allan about Curling was fun. I pulled all the curling facts from Jonathan Coulton’s song I could remember. Did a ‘Date Scene’ with Peggy that was decent. And, of course, Alien Barbershop was fun. The suggestion was Chewing Gum.
When chewing gum,
Don’t swallow it.
Or else you will,
See it when you…go to the bathroom.
At the end of the show we got another standing ovation, third in a row, very nice. Then Tyler, Sean and I went to a bar called Malarky’s Pub where two audience members had offered to buy us drinks. I’m, of course, a real cheap date, so my waters with ice didn’t set them back much at all.
Stayed at the bar talking to Sean a bit and then we headed back to the hotel. Had to get to sleep early because there was an early, 7:45AM, bus pick up call to drive on to Milwaukee.
So, the hotel.
We often head to the next town the night after a show. This gives our crew more time to get, much needed, sleep before they have to be at the venue.
We left Fort Worth earlier than normal, about 11PM. We got to Austin around 2AM. As I said it was an uneventful bus trip, which was nice for a change.
When we got to the hotel, the inner door to the lobby was locked. A guy, another hotel guest opened the door for us but when we got in there was no one at the front desk. The place was deserted.
A sign read that we should dial 0 on the phone in the lobby and someone could help us. Alan dialed 0 and the phone rang at the front desk where no one was. It rang and rang and no one came out. Alan hung up and tried again and it went to a busy signal. So we were standing in the lobby at 2AM with no one to check us in.
It was then that Tyler spotted a stack of check in papers and keys on the front desk. He hopped over the counter and proceeded to check us all in. The papers were made out to us, so it was basically him distributing room keys. Relieved to be able to sleep, we wandered off to our rooms.
Outside the door of my room there was a horribly musty, moldy, smell. I entered the room and was knocked over by a super powerful ‘cleaner’ smell. It was super powerful, and nauseating. I put down my stuff and wandered back towards the front desk, contemplating going across the street to the Hyatt in the parking lot. It was late though and if I did go to another hotel, I’d have to pay for it. So I just bit the bullet and bedded down for the night in my horrible smelling room.
The next morning I was up early to do a TV appearance on local Austin TV. Patrick, Juliana and I headed out with a driver from the venue, The Long Center and we went and did a very brief TV appearance. It was fun and we got to see some of the sights of Austin as we drove to and from the television station.
They bought us breakfast at a place called Spiderhouse Cafe. Juliana and I had the Tupelo Honey & Bacon Sandwich. Bacon, Peanut Butter, Bananas and honey on whole wheat bread. The whole wheat bread makes it healthy. It was amazing.
Once back to the hotel, I asked about switching my room. This was the opportunity the hotel staff was waiting for.
STAFF: You with the group that checked in last night?
STAFF: We have a phone right there, you know. You could have called us.
ME: We did. The first time it just rang and rang. The second time it was busy. No one was here.
STAFF: Well, the woman on duty has worked here for 10 years and there’s never been a problem.
ME: Well, there was a problem last night. She wasn’t around.
STAFF: Well, one of you hopped over our counter. We have it on video.
ME: Well, it wasn’t me. How about that new room?
STAFF: We don’t have any available at your rate. Sorry.
Ugh. They’ll be getting a nice review on Yelp.
As I was changing to strike out into Austin to meet some friends for lunch, I realized why my room smelled so horrible. At some point the rooms on the first floor on this side of the hotel had flooded. They got rid of the water. Maybe replaced the carpet…maybe. But then they didn’t do any other cleaning, they just poured on the industrial cleaner. Lovely.
I then headed out to meet up with Mary Jo Pehl and her husband for lunch. It was so much fun to hang out with them. We had a great lunch and they were excited to come see the show that night.
Afterwards, I walked around Austin for a bit and then it was time to get back to the hotel and get set for soundcheck.
Over at the venue, I ran into Dani Pruitt who works at the center. She helped put on Leslie Carrara-Rudolph’s show in New York and she’s helping Leslie put on her show in Austin, so I’ll be seeing her again soon.
The show in Austin was fantastic. The crowd was into the show from the moment it started and there were a lot of great suggestions.
I had a great Slide Show structure with Allan. We were doing an orientation for new exorcists. It was really loose and fun and Allan and I had a lot of fun playing off of each other.
The Alien Barbershop was another fun one. The suggestion was Long Division. I REALLY wanted to do a long division problem, in song, in four lines, but I needed some scratch paper to work it out. Anyway, this is what I came up with:
I like long division.
I’m not a hater.
But I’m no fool,
I use a calculator.
Overall it was a really tight show and a lot of fun. We got a standing ovation at the end, so Austin was super kind to us.
After the show we spent some time in a tiny bar called Ego, then Sean Johnson and I walked to a place called Gourdoughs. They make the most INSANE donuts in the world. Just look at this thing….
There is a donut in there. Somewhere.
We then walked back to the stinky hotel, saw Patrick and Juliana and Patrick in the lobby and chatted for a minute and then retired.
Tomorrow is a travel day to Wisconsin. It’ll be a long day of travel, but it’ll be very good to get out of this hotel. Blech. The glamor of life of on tour.
The morning of the 9th was spent lazily getting ready for the show that night at Bass Hall in Fort Worth, and making sure I was all packed up to leave. We needed to check out of the hotel as we were hitting the road to Austin right after the show.
Once I was all packed up, I took another stroll in downtown Fort Worth. They have a really nice downtown area, though most of it is under construction.
After a late lunch it was time to head to the venue. Bass Hall is an amazing venue. Like a giant opera house on the inside. Almost a little intimidating to play there it’s so big and ornate on the inside.
The cast is usually called to the venue at about 3 or 4PM. We get into mics and go through sound and tech rehearsal. This is to check the sound, but to also check some of the tech elements of the show, like the Henson Digital Puppetry System and position things like the rail that we use for Java and I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face.
I want to take a brief moment to give a shout out to our crew Greg, Cameron, Zach and Sean. These guys have to be at the venue early in the morning to direct the local crew in getting things set up and ready to go. A few days ago when we had that seven and a half long hour bus ride? They had to get to the venue right after we arrived. No sleep. They do a heck of a job making us look good.
After rehearsal we usually have dinner at the venue. Today the dinner was barbecue chicken and it was amazing. We got to dine in a really fancy green room too. Just off of the green room was a fancy little reception room where Patrick realized it’s be fun to take these goofy ‘serious’ photos. We spent pretty much up to show time posing on this couch and coming up with insane ways to pose with the puppets.
Then it was time to Puppet Up! The crowd at Bass Hall was fantastic. Their suggestions were awesome and they were with us the whole time.
I did ‘Slide Show’ with Allan and our suggestion was Oprah & Gayle’s Road Trip. We had some fun with that and when a slide of a cow came up I remembered Oprah and her ‘beef’ with the cattle ranchers. I brought that up and it got a big laugh.
Alien Barbershop was fun, though having a day off, I should have refreshed my memory on the right key of the song a bit. I was off. But the rhyme got a big laugh. I’ll let you guess the topic but here was my song…
I do it daily,
To keep me calm.
Just don’t look,
At my hairy palm.
That went over pretty good.
We got a great suggestion for the title of our Film Noir structure: Double Indignity. Hilarious!
Right after the show we hit the road to Austin. The bus drive was, refreshingly, normal. No problems at all. We even got a stop at a Whataburger. It was so nice to have some uneventful travel.
But then we got to the hotel….
And since it happened after midnight, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow.
Goal Setting times 100,000,000 is what’s on tap for me as I start 2013.
As I mentioned before after reading the Art Of Non-Conformity and Amazing Things Will Happen I’ve decided to try some ‘radical goal setting’ for 2013. This is apart of that whole thing, an annual review. A look back at 2012. Below are some of the Highlights/Lowlights from what I’ve written in my journal about the year gone by.
2012 was a very, very rough year, so let’s start with the bright spots…
2012 – THE GOOD
– MY PROFESSIONAL CAREER 2012 –
- I performed in a string of Stuffed & Unstrung shows on the east coast as both puppeteer and host. This run of shows was highlighted by two very incredible events. The first being that Joel Hodgson came to see one of our shows. If you’re a reader of this blog you know that I’m a huge fan of Joel’s and to have him come to a show I was in was a treat. The other amazing thing was that Brian Henson told me after one show that his dad really would have liked one little bit I had done in the show that night. He said, “…my dad loved clean, simple, gags and that [bit] was just clean, simple and perfect.” Truly amazing.
- I puppeteered in a YouTube video for Nerdist and The Jim Henson Company annoucning the launch of the Nerdist YouTube Channel. The video featured special guest star! “Weird Al” Yankovic.
- Made a trip to New York City to help Leslie Carrara-Rudolph mount her show Wake Up Your Weird!.
- I was asked by The Jim Henson Company to host a special Q&A session with Jane Henson. It was a great evening and Jane was absolutely magic. The evening was recorded, but Henson seems to be dragging their feet on releasing it. Hopefully it’ll get out there someday.
- I shot a puppet ‘sizzle reel’ for Vin di Bona Productions (America’s Funniest Home Videos) called Whoops!. It was a lot of fun and I played one of the lead characters. Unfortunately, this one seems to be stuck in development hell so who knows what’s going to happen. I haven’t even seen the footage we shot.
- In August, I Touted for the first time with a puppet character named Uncle Interloper (pictured). By December 31, 2012, Uncle Interloper had over 4500 followers on Tout.com and he’s starred in three episodic Tout Series.
- I was asked to create an original audio drama piece to support the release of the book Empire State by Adam Christopher. The piece is called The Adventures of Johnny Ironclad. Special thanks to Mur Lafferty for making that possible.
- Produced & Released Throwing Toasters Favorites on CD and Digital Download.
- Produced & Released The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd – The Complete Season 7 on CD and Digital Download.
- I tought a few How To Podcast classes at Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank as part of their Flappers University.
- Continued to work as Associate Producer on Cinematic Titanic.
- Continued to work as an interviewer for Championship Wrestling from Hollywood and moved into a ringside interviewer position.
- Relaunched my old internet radio show Fill In The Blank on DementiaRadio.org.
- Recorded and edited the first couple episodes from a new audio drama project I’m working on. Keep an eye on SaturdayMorningMedia.com for info.
- Celebrated the 10th anniversary of opening Grant’s Advent Calendar online.
- Continued performing as Throwing Toasters, The Unusual Artistry of Walter Hanley & His Mother Radio Ventriloquists and with Improvatorium.
– TRAVEL 2012 –
- Great time traveling to the east coast with Stuffed & Unstrung, visiting Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C. & North Carolina.
- Spent a week at the O’Neil Theatre Center in Connecticut and then 10 days in New York helping rehearse for Leslie Carrara-Rudolph’s show. The O’Neil is an amazing place and I love the energy it has. As for New York, It was the longest time I’d ever spent in the Big Apple and it was truly a wonderful time. I enjoyed putting on the show, seeing the sights, going on walks and just chilling out on the couch in my room…er…I mean apartment that I subleased for my time there.
- Got to make it back to Klamath Falls, OR with my parent to visit with my mom’s side of the family.
- Made several trips to the San Francisco Bay Area to visit my parents.
– ENRICHMENT –
- Saw Cinematic Titanic Live
- Went to an amazing Spike Jones retrospective that was moderated by Dr. Demento.
- Saw How The West Was Won in full CINERAMA. It was amazing. I was crying after the first few minute of the Overture. It was just TOO MUCH GOOD STUFF.
- Got to see Joel Hodgson speak twice at Cinefamily. Both events were immensely inspirational and fired up the creative juices.
There’s a lot of really good things in the above list but the first thing on the list below really took all the wind out of my sails for most of the year.
2012 – THE BAD
– HEALTH –
- I have to start with the Health section because on June 18, 2012 I fell and fractured the humerus in my right arm (pictured). An injury that took me out of doing…anything. Puppets, guitar playing, even driving. On the good side, I didn’t need surgery and I was able to get my full range of motion back but it wiped me out.
- Coupled with the break I sort of delved deeper into (self-diagnosed) depression than I’ve ever been and this means I start eating! When you’re eating a lot and can’t exercise due to an injury, the pounds just magically appear out of nowhere.
- Even now, completely healed, I just can’t seem to avoid pigging out on the worst food imaginable. This has to change. It has to.
– MY PROFESSIONAL CAREER 2012 –
- The broken arm didn’t help things but 2012 had me feeling the worst about my professional career than ever. Every category: comedy, puppetry, writing just seemed to stink. Because of the broken arm, all my jobs dried up in the summer (usually when I get the most work) which left me scraping by at the end of 2012. Concerted job finding effort is underway, but it’s been very slow going.
- This year several times I had people ask me for ideas or I pitched ideas to people and they’d run with them and effectively cut me out of the loop so they got the glory and I got…nothing. Unfortunately, this has made me a little more reserved in giving my ideas to people.
As I look back I think that it’s sort of silly to have one event (broken arm) outweigh all that good, but that break hit me pretty hard. When you’re unable to do…anything.. it really packs a whallop. There is a lot of good and by the end of the year things were marginally looking up. I just didn’t end 2012 thinking, “Man that was a the best year ever!”
The good news is that 2013 can only be better by default.
Okay, that’s it for now. Stay tuned as soon we’ll have a look at my goals for 2013.
Thanks for reading this far.