Archive for the 'Writing that’s NOT about my babies' Category

Goodbye, farewell and amen

April 17, 2011

Andrew Hicks

Let’s recap: I start this blog in September. In January, I pledge to post 365 entries in 2011. In February, I realize that goal is unsustainable. In April, I decide to discontinue this blog. This will be the final entry.

There will be no more Dad’s Daytime Diary because, in a matter of days, I will no longer be a daytime dad. We’re changing the guard — I’ll be the 50-hour-per-week bread earner, and my wife will stay at home with the kids. If she wants to start a blog called Mom’s Morning Missives, I’ll be sure to read every word.

Now, before anyone gets upset, let’s remind ourselves that no one reads this blog anyway. Sure, my babies’ grandparents check this site every day in search of new pictures. When I link these blog posts from Facebook, sometimes I get 75 or 100 hits a day. So you’re here, you’re reading right now, and obviously that means the first sentence of this paragraph is not true.

But here’s the deal — I have another blog I work on, I’m very proud of it, and it’s gaining serious comic momentum. It’s called We’re Not Funny, and it’s a comedy collective. I have a growing group of comedians and pseudo-academic smartasses who joke and write with me. I’m the gatekeeper, of course. I edit and post all the entries that go up. Ask my wife, and she’ll tell you I’m a passive-aggressive control freak.

I will not stop writing about my kids. Anything I used to post here, I can post at WNF. I will also post to WNF all the types of writing I posted here that didn’t necessarily fit the Dad’s Daytime Diary format, e.g. the obituary for Carlos O’Kelly’s, my stories of doing standup comedy and all other miscellany.

I’ve enjoyed my time spent working on this blog, and I’ve treasured the feedback I’ve gotten from its small but loyal core of readers. Follow me over to We’re Not Funny, or keep checking this site for links to all my newest writing. I will maintain the archive of posts, and I have plans to edit down and self-publish the past seven months’ worth of daddy writing. It’s been fun and, hey, it got me writing quality stuff again on the regular. Thanks for starting this journey with me.

LAST BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

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Obituary: Carlos O’Kelly’s in Springfield

March 28, 2011

Andrew Hicks

Carlos O’Kelly’s of Springfield, Illinois, died on Monday, March 21, 2011. It was 5 years old.

The general manager got the news from his boss on Saturday night:

Your sales are too low. They’re actually second to the bottom of 48 locations in the Midwest. Your store, along with five other low-volume Carlos restaurants, will be shut down.

Call all your employees bright and early Monday morning and tell them they no longer have jobs. Get ready to tell your day-shift regulars they have to find somewhere else to go to eat from now on.

Some trucks will soon be by to move your food inventory and kitchen equipment to other area Carlos locations. Make sure to call Pepsi, the coffee and tea people, and the guy who rents you knives so they can come get their stuff. We’ve already hired some movers to take away the booths, tables and chairs.

Thank you for your 18 years of service to the company, and be sure to thank the kitchen manager for her 20-year tenure. And hey – you have a nice day.

Carlos in Springfield opened in a freshly constructed, standalone building in November, 2005. The kitchen manager and general manager transferred in from the Carlos in Decatur, Ill., to open the store. The GM’s wife came too. She’d been a server with Carlos for more than a decade, and she met her husband while working in the restaurant. And this lady, from a purely objective standpoint, was one hell of a badass server.

The three of them — KM, GM and Roboserver — were a powerhouse team that could and should have taken on a restaurant five times as busy as the one they presided over in Springfield for five years. Objectively speaking, of course.

The Springfield Carlos O’Kelly’s was on the town’s east side. Residents of Springfield tend to patronize the restaurants on the west side — really, the best side — of town. East Springfield has a cluster of hotels next to a cluster of restaurant chains. When there’s a convention or horse show or giant state fair in town, the east side hotels and restaurants are slammed. The rest of the time, not so slammed. The everyday service economy sucks now. Too many toxic loans and layoffs and store closings and stuff.

In early 2008, this writer started working opening shifts Monday through Friday at the Springfield Carlos as a second job. Only three servers were on in the daytime, including the GM’s wife, the Bionic Waitress. In a few hours, a server could make $20 or $35 or $50 or the ultra-rare jackpot lunch-shift take of $80 or more. There was a camaraderie between front and back of house that was terrific, but the low sales volume made for frequent boredom.

Also in early 2008, Carlos Springfield started having karaoke on Thursday nights. The earliest karaoke nights were attended primarily by off-duty employees, which made it seem like you were at your work’s Christmas party every week. Albeit a Christmas party where you’re handed a hefty tab when the fugly lights come on. Over time, thanks to steady and eager word of mouth, a stable of karaoke regulars developed. This writer made Thursday Carlos O’Karaoke his primary social ritual, with his personal attendance rising and dropping based on the effects of two pregnancies and births in a three-year span.

Carlos O’Kelly’s in Springfield is survived by its general manager and his wife, the head server, who have already moved to Florida. Its kitchen manager gets ten weeks of severance pay for working two decades for the company. Its hourly hospitality manager, who for six years drove 45 minutes each way from and back to Lincoln, Ill., to earn somewhere in the neighborhood of ten bucks an hour from Carlos, gets nothing. Its other assistant manager, nothing. All the front and back of house staff — including one server who helped open the restaurant seven years ago — get nothing. In a capitalist economy, that’s only reasonable. The Carlos people have a business to keep afloat, after all, and the restaurant industry is cutthroat.

Carlos is also survived by a couple dozen core karaoke regulars, many of whom gathered last Thursday night at Applebee’s on the west side of Springfield, to bury and praise the three-year run of Carlos O’Karaoke. It was universally agreed that, next to what this group was used to, Applebee’s karaoke sucked. Hard.

The karaoke crowd was a comfortable one, a family loosely defined as “people you only really associate and connect with while partying together.” The Carlos staff, by the traditional definition of the word, was more family than many of its employees’ actual families. When the restaurant died suddenly, there were a lot of tears. Granted, there were also a lot of female employees, and women may be more apt to deal with sudden, unexpected loss by crying, crying and crying some more.

The closing of Carlos is not the end of the world, by any means, but it is the end of an era. The close-knit Carlos ex-employees will disperse to other jobs, and the ex-karaoke regulars will press on to find a new home to sing and party in. But most everyone involved, including this writer, will remember the Springfield Carlos O’Kelly’s with great fondness for many years.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Beards, beards, beards

March 14, 2011

Andrew Hicks

In any business, it’s all about who you know. I’m still only an armchair comedian — I do my one open mic a month in Springfield, and occasionally I get booked to open weekend comedy shows. But because I worked with somebody at a movie theater a decade ago, now I get to go open a show in St. Louis in a couple weeks for four guys known collectively as the Beards of Comedy.

This girl and I, we worked together and partied together a few times in the early G.W. Bush days, but unlike me, she had her shit together upon graduating from the Mizzou School of Journalism. She went to work for the Riverfront Times, St. Louis’s free circulation paper that is one part journalism, one part entertainment and one part tranny escort ads. Then she went to work for Las Vegas Weekly. Now she lives in L.A. and does comedy promotion and booking.

I think the last time we met up for a drink was in 2006, but we’ve stayed in touch through the social networks. Pretty poor touch, I admit — when she contacted me about the show, she didn’t know I’d gotten married, and I didn’t know she’d gotten married since the last time we’d talked. It’s not like people announce engagements, send out wedding invitations, have elaborate ceremonies and receptions and then send you annual Christmas card newsletters to gloss over how it all turned out. Well, I didn’t do any of that, anyway.

So on Saturday, April 2, at 8 pm, I’ll be going onstage at a place I’ve never heard of called Pop’s Blue Moon. Sometime between now and then, maybe in the middle of their Saturday late rush, I plan to call up there and ask a few questions. How big is this place? Where is their show area? Will a dart league be playing in the corner? Are there ample fire exits, marked clearly? If the Beards of Comedy bring pyrotechnics, I’m not going out in a black smoke-billowing human stampede like the folks who died in the Great White fire of 2003.

Meantime, I’m gonna use the power of Facebook to invite friends in St. Louis who might be interested in coming down to see me and four slackers with ample facial hair. So far, I’ve only talked to one person who’s heard of the Beards, and he’s a fellow open mic comedian whose opinion and taste I respect. I’ve watched some of their YouTube stuff, and they’re funny dudes. They’ve got much of the same laid-back, pop-culture-attacking slacker sensibility that marks the majority of my humor, so it should be a good fit.

Another comedian buddy asked me, “Beards? Does that mean they’re all closet homosexuals?” And this guy doesn’t know his gay lingo. Watch two episodes of “Queer Eye,” and you know a “beard” is what they call the woman a gay dude dates to throw everyone off the scent of his same-sex trail. So, by this rationale, the lady spouses of the Beards of Comedy would be known as the Beards of the Beards of Comedy.

These are the kinds of cerebral, intellectual jokes you can expect if you come up to Pop’s Blue Moon three Saturdays from now. Fire exits clearly marked. Possibly.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Love letter to my iPod

February 25, 2011

Andrew Hicks

We have an anniversary coming up, you and I. Five years. Half a decade since you came into my life. I have a hard time remembering what things were like before you came along, and I can’t picture my life without you.

Yeah, we’ve had our rough patches. Remember when I lost your charger for like two months? Remember when the Bose dock bit the dust? Remember how mad I would get when I’d put you on shuffle, and you’d pick the same “random” songs every time?

But iPod, I’m not kidding — I love you, man. You were around before I had kids, when I used to party all the time. They called me the Music Nazi because I didn’t feel like a social gathering was complete unless you were front and center, spitting out jams from the My Top Rated playlist.

You’ve gone from the forefront to the background and now back to the forefront. These days, you have to compete with Barney, Kipper and Caillou for background noise in the room. Soon, I might have to silence your Geto Boys and all your ’90s West Coast gangsta sheet, but right now we’re kickin’ it like it’s the good ol’ days.

I both love and hate how you’re frozen in time. When you first came around, I had to load all your songs from my roommate’s Mac. I went crazy, cycling through all my old CDs and begging any friend who gave me a ride home to bring their CDs inside so I could stock you. I checked out 20 CDs from the library at a time so you’d be more full-bodied.

I thought I was being discriminating at the time, but now I wish I would’ve hidden more guilty pleasures in your 30-gig canon. Why did I think in 2006 that I’d never want to hear “Round and Round” by Tevin Campbell again in my life? I love that song.

Inevitably, there will be loss. One day, you will die or get dropped in the toilet or maybe even be stolen by a visiting Jehovah’s Witness with questionable morals. And on that day, I will be sad, inconsolable and probably too broke to immediately buy your replacement. But let’s enjoy what we have while we have it.

So how about we do a shuffle right now? Ready? Okay… What? Wilson Phillips?! Ah, you know me too well, iPod.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Sarah with a Funsaver camera. I can't wait till she's old enough to look at this picture and ask, "Daddy, what the heck is that thing?"

Old MacDonald redux

February 24, 2011

Andrew Hicks

EDITOR’S NOTE: This blog post is being written a day late, while — no joke — Andrew cooks three pounds of processed chicken breast in the oven.

Sarah has been singing “Old MacDonald” nonstop for an hour now. Which got me to thinking, the producers of the movie Food Inc. should rewrite it and ruin it for all the sweet, naive kids out there. I don’t have the time or ability to complete a full-bodied parody, but the general idea is this:

Old MacDonald had a farm.
E-I-E-I-O
And on that farm he had a cow.
E-I-E-I-O
And the cow spent his whole life with hundreds of other cows in a poorly ventilated building, being fed chemicalized byproducts, unable to turn around. And the unattended cow waste piled up, and by the time he was slaughtered, he was standing ankle-deep in cow feces.
E-I-E-I-O
With a moo moo here, and a moo moo there.
Here a moo, there a moo, everywhere a moo moo.
Old MacDonald had a farm.
E-I-E-I-O

Old MacDonald had a farm.
E-I-E-I-O
And on that farm he had a chick.
E-I-E-I-O
And the chicken was genetically engineered so it would reach maximum breast-heavy growth by six weeks, and disease-ridden chickens fell dead all around him and were left to rot, and migrant workers came in the middle of the night to cram him and his buddies into cages so their connective tissue could be ground into breaded slurry nuggets.
E-I-E-I-O
With a peep peep here and a peep peep there.
Here a peep, there a peep, everywhere a peep peep.
Old MacDonald had a farm.
E-I-E-I-O

Old MacDonald, by the way, has a contract with Tyson Foods that put him hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, made him into an indentured servant and only earns him about $18,000 each year for his 80 hours a week of work.
Old MacDonald is plenty screwed.
E-I-E-I-O

Microreadership drive

February 19, 2011

Andrew Hicks

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post for Saturday was written on Sunday, while Andrew listened to the new Radiohead album, which he recommends.

Most appeals for readership by blog authors don’t treat individuals as individuals. But I aim to pioneer the opposite approach. I know that each day people happen upon this site after they type in search phrases. Most of these web surfers will probably come by this blog once and never return, but I figure, if I address the specific concerns that brought them to my site, they might come back. Repeat readership is the name of the game, so bear with me as I address a few of my search-term readers specifically, one on one:

TO THE FIVE PEOPLE WHO SEARCHED FOR “BUFFET”
Man, you guys are people after my own heart. My favorite buffet experience right now is the Saturday breakfast at Golden Corral. Get there around 9:45 or so, eat a giant salad with baby shrimp, black olives, red onion, blue cheese crumbles and Thousand Island, make a single-plate run through the breakfast items and finish it all with a slice of “no sugar added” blueberry pie. It’s too early for me to eat really sweet food, but it’s not too early for pie. Previously, my only option was quiche. Also, the breakfast buffet includes free juice, milk and coffee, and Sarah is still free, and she always eats at least 27 cents worth of scrambled eggs and 4 cents worth of soft-serve vanilla. Added value.

TO THE PERSON WHO SEARCHED FOR “DELAYED BATHING”
When I was like ten, I once delayed taking a bath for an entire month. Is that what we’re talking about here?

TO THE PERSON WHO SEARCHED FOR “WHY DON’T WHITE PEOPLE USE WASHCLOTHS”
I can’t speak for every white person, but to me the washcloth seems like an unnecessary middle-medium. I can get the soap directly from the bar to my body by placing it in my hand and rubbing it on the body part I’m interested in washing. Seems easier and more efficient than rubbing the soap on the washcloth, then rubbing the washcloth on my body. The hygiene issue is moot to me, because if you rub the soap on a particularly dirty or intimate part of your body, it’s STILL SOAP. It IS cleanliness. It repels my ass-cooties or whatever. Can you tell I opted to take three years of science in high school rather than four?

TO THE PERSON WHO SEARCHED FOR “FINE LEATHER DIARIES”
I know a lot about diaries, but I’ve always kept mine on the computer or in beat-up notebooks of various sizes. I’m not a “fine leather diaries” kind of guy. But I want you to read my diary, so together let’s explore the opening paragraph of Wikipedia’s entry on leather: “Leather is a durable and flexible material created via the tanning of putrescible animal rawhide and skin, primarily cattlehide. It can be produced through different manufacturing processes, ranging from cottage industry to heavy industry.” That’s informative and entertaining — tell me the word “putrescible” looks anything less than electric on the page.

TO THE PERSON WHO SEARCHED FOR “8 MONTH OLD BABY WITH BROKEN NOSE”
Silas is almost 8 months, and his nose is fine, but when Sarah was around this age, I left her on the bed and turned to the dresser to get myself a shirt. In the few seconds my back was turned, she managed to roll herself off the bed and tumble down to the floor, where it seemed she landed on her shoulderblade and head. Little girl screamed her head off, and I spent the night cursing myself for allowing her to get severe brain damage before her first birthday. She fell asleep crying and acting disoriented, but she woke up normal, and I never again put her on my bed and turned my back on her. She didn’t break her nose, either. So I guess none of this is relevant to you. Sorry I lost you as a reader.

TO THE PERSON WHO SEARCHED FOR “GERMAN DIAPER STORIES”
Ich bemerkte gestern, als Sarah wachte aus ihrem Mittagsschlaf, sie habe ihre Windel entfernt. Es gab eine vage Geruch von Kot, aber ich habe nichts gesehen. Ich wischte ihr Bereichen und einen neuen Windel auf ihr. An diesem Morgen, wenn vaccuuming ihr Zimmer, stieß ich auf eine vertrocknete braune Stück Kot, viele Füße, von wo sie schlief. Sie warfen die Sauger durch den Raum. Es gibt keine Art, wie ich über diese Geschichte in Englisch schreiben würde, aber das ist Deutsch, so dass wir sicher sind.

TO THE PERSON WHO SEARCHED FOR “DIARY THAT IS LIKE POOP”
You are definitely in the right place, sir or ma’am.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

End of the world

February 18, 2011

Andrew Hicks

When I was 10, I checked a movie out of the Grace Christian Bookstore. It was a 1970s evangelistic thriller from Mark IV Productions, a Christian filmmaking company that aimed to make Des Moines, Iowa, into a Branson Hollywood. Their most famous movie, A Thief in the Night, was the one I checked out that day.

I watched it by myself in the afternoon. It was Martin Luther King Day, so I was off school and hanging out in the office area of the church my mom worked in. There was a little upstairs reception waiting area no one ever actually waited in, so I’d plop down on the scratchy love seat and watch VHS while my mom worked. Occasionally, my mom’s coworkers would come through on their way to somewhere else and comment. A few asked what the movie was and seemed unfamiliar with it. A couple others said the movie scared the crap out of them when they were younger.

What was so scary? Not much, I thought the first time through. A Thief in the Night is a 70-minute Rapture movie where the Rapture doesn’t take place until 50 minutes in. The Christians disappear up to heaven, and the nonbelievers are left behind to live through a seven-year apocalyptic period that includes wars, plagues, the Antichrist and the Mark of the Beast.

This brand of premillenialist Rapture theology is a pastiche of seemingly unrelated passages from all over the Old and New Testament, not just the Book of Revelation. The Rapture idea wasn’t even really formulated until the 19th century. I didn’t know any of this at the time, but I was just the right age to identify with a little girl character in A Thief in the Night who comes home, can’t find mommy, sees her untended dinner burning up on the stove and thinks she missed the Rapture.

The cheesy chase scenes where one-world government stooges prepare to guillotine Patty, the protagonist, because she won’t take the MOTB — those kind of shook me up the second time through, after I’d gotten home that night. What jacked me up most, though, was the idea that I’d lose all my loved ones and then have to face the end of the world, the events of which were foretold, unstoppable and just around the corner.

I read all the end-times prophecy books I could get my hands on, and I watched the three sequels to A Thief in the Night, all of which scared me for different reasons. There were entire nights I could never fall asleep because I was obsessively terrified of the end of the world. I spent months sleeping on the couch in my mom’s bedroom, so I could be sure she was still here on earth and not snatched up to heaven at the holy trumpet’s call. I had a dream that I couldn’t sell sixth-grade camp fundraiser candy bars because I didn’t have the MOTB.

I remember getting ready for school one morning and overhearing Deborah Norville say, “1988 was not a good year for the ozone layer,” as part of a story intro. It ruined my entire day, because it was another sign the end was near. I was never going to grow up, I was going to miss the Rapture, UNITE agents were gonna capture and torture me. These kinds of things can distract a young kid from regular school subjects.

These, for an adolescent, were truly dark, living-in-fear moments of the soul. I’d pray for peace and comfort, and it wouldn’t come. I didn’t tell anybody what was bothering me. And it went on for years, with varying intensity. I imagine it’s not too dissimilar from the worst reactions to the “duck and cover” feeling of being a kid during the Cold War. There’s a lot of irrational fear going up my family tree on my mom’s side, and I’ve certainly dealt with my share of it in areas other than this.

It seems surreal and almost unfathomable to me now that I could lose entire happy years to a fear of missing the Rapture, but it most certainly happened to me. My tale is nuttier than most, assuredly, but talk to some Christian school kids my age sometime. I’m not the only one.

Valentine’s

February 14, 2011

Andrew Hicks

I don’t know if it was coincidence in 2003 that I broke up with* my girlfriend of like three months right before Valentine’s Day. I dodged the bullet. And, up until Tiffany came along, I was single every other Valentine’s in my twenties. I was a service industry guy, too, so Valentine’s meant a busy, busy day where the restaurant was fully staffed to deal with all the people who only go out to eat on Hallmark holidays and annual Jesus-related occasions. I was too busy making money to mourn my single status.

In fact, if you’d talked to me at the time, depending on my Blood Alcohol Content, you might’ve heard my speech about how being single and loving yourself was the most simple, sure, enjoyable life imaginable. You had the freedom to do whatever whenever with whoever. I was also big on advocating regular masturbation to any dude who altered his behavior or stressed out over women and sex. The way I saw it, masturbation was just good maintenance, like changing the oil in your car. If your car needed an oil change every 15 miles.

Of course, I changed my tune when I met my wife. Tiffany and I are evenly matched when it comes to not placing a great deal of importance on holiday ritual; we both get more stressed out than gratified by the demands of holiday gift giving. Not to mention, we’ve pretty much been broke at every point in our relationship to date. So I pour my heart into writing a short novel on the inside flap of a card, and I try my hardest to be the nicest, best guy I can be. We have some married-people sex and occasionally share a ton of chocolate, and you know that makes me happy.

My new favorite thing to do when these Hallmark and Jesus holidays come around is to send all the grandparents and extended family a homemade Smilebox card. Valentine’s is only the second occasion I’ve uploaded a ton of cute, digital baby pictures and customized them into cards for family, but it’s easier, better and way cheaper than walking to the dirty Mom and Pop grocery store up the street and choosing from their supply of cards from 1991. (SAMPLE CARD TEXT: I Hope You Return Soon From The Desert Storm Ground War, Child Or Spouse.)

The cards are only a dollar, so I do like to use them as ironic, kitschy examples of living in a small town, but that kind of novelty only gets you so far.

TOP TEN NERD VALENTINE’S DAY ACTIVITIES
(from A Year in the Life of a Nerd, 2/14/1995)

10. Decide whether to spend day with Shelia or Debbie (my pet squid and iguana).
9. Drown sorrows in plate of “cheez fries.”
8. Pose as 12-year-old girl on Internet.
7. Wear pink heart-shaped glasses and matching pocket protector.
6. Make out with photograph of Heather Locklear.
5. Buy giant box of chocolates. Devour.
4. Drag out “Polka Love Serenade” CD.
3. Burn Barbie doll at stake.
2. Ignore phone calls from Jocelyn Elders saying it’s perfectly okay to spend Valentine’s Day by yourself.
1. Three words: “Love Boat” marathon.

*The whole affair was an appallingly juvenile exercise by the both of us. The breakup happened over email. She was all, “I’m taking all these classes right now, and I’m working a lot, and I’m soooo busy. I wonder if I even have time in my life for a boyfriend. Maybe we should just be friends.” And I was all, “Hey, that sounds like a great idea, because I don’t really have fun when I’m with you, and I definitely don’t have fun when you’re not around because it’s always hanging over my head that you’re jealous of anyone and everyone I party with.” I had an out, and I jumped right on it, but we both insisted we’d remain friends. As if we were friends before. As if we could ever have stood each other’s company if we weren’t playing the dating game for our own different selfish reasons.

A man like Annie Lennox

February 10, 2011

Andrew Hicks

EDITOR’S NOTE: Andrew wrote about half of the following post yesterday afternoon, intending to come back and finish it when he had a break from the babies. It never happened.

On the standup comedy front, last night was my first trip to another Central Illinois club, Mason City Limits, in Mason City. From what I was able to ascertain, Mason City consists of about four blocks, three bars and a Dollar General. I’m a little jealous. Where I’m from, we have a Subway and a Christian youth center that looks like a bar from the outside.

I rode up from Springfield in the passenger seat of local C-list celebrity Buddah Eskew*, and immediately, we were arguing about car music. Buddah was like, “We’re listening to Justin Bieber,” and I was like, “Screw that. Justin Bieber sucks. Justin Bieber’s not real music. We’re listening to Miley Cyrus.” Back and forth it went: Bieber, Cyrus, Bieber, Cyrus.

We finally turned on the radio and found shared solace in the song “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” Hearing that song only further cements my feeling that Annie Lennox is one of the great underappreciated male vocalists of our time.

In the back seat were Saad Ahmed, a razor-sharp comedian with an inimitable dry delivery and timing, and Rich Mansfield, the one guy in our peer group that really seems to have the stage performance aspect down and isn’t mostly just up there reciting jokes. Mansfield wanted to talk about comedians the entire time. He told us about a Marc Maron podcast interview with Gallagher that went awry, and he name-checked just about every famous ’80s comedian who was given a sitcom after making it big on “The Tonight Show,” along with other comedians who were no doubt just given a crappy pilot that never got picked up by a network.

The open mic is normally on the first Wednesday of the month at Mason City, but last week’s diabolical snowstorm postponed the event to this Wednesday. I want to blame scheduling changes for the lack of turnout, but there was still a foot of snow on the ground, and the temperature was hovering around 4 degrees Fahrenheit, so that also may have had something to do with everyone’s decision to stay home.

With the exception one of the comics’ mother and girlfriend (two separate people, FYI), the audience was made up entirely of open-mic comedians. Meaning, like fifteen people total, including the club owner and bartender. In a situation like this, you should have a pretty good stockpile of bits you want to try out just in front of your peers. You should just get up there, be conversational, leave out most of your tried-and-true set list and have fun with it.

I didn’t have a lot of fun with it, unfortunately. I had to go up first, which meant no time to relax and laugh a little and try to get together a few shared reference points to call back from earlier in the show. I got some good scattered laughs, but mood-wise, I wasn’t feeling social, I wasn’t feeling bold, I wasn’t really feeling “on.” An Andrew with a different mindset would’ve welcomed the opportunity to have a looser, more friendly structure onstage, to chat up a new club owner, to banter with the other comics. This Andrew mostly kept quiet.

I have another open mic at my home club this Wednesday. Five days to get myself back into Showoff Smartass Mode.

* Buddah writes regularly for our humor site, We’re Not Funny, and is a very friendly, amusing dude. I like editing his stuff because the end result is always a good blend of lines that are funny written as is, other lines I can make funnier with a little judicious tweaking and still other lines I completely rewrite based on his premises.

PICTURE OF THE DAY

Squatters and robbers

February 9, 2011

EDITOR’S NOTE: Still not caught up to the present day, Andrew has decided to run a couple bits he would have included in his “My Quiet Neighborhood” post had he remembered to.

Any time I see more than two cars pull into the retirement community down the street, I assume it’s a ghetto funeral procession, and they forgot something.

The owner of the house next door, which is obviously abandoned and in shambles, nonetheless has adopted the cliched anti-theft strategy of playing talk radio all night long so squatters or passersby with criminal intent will mistakenly believe the house to be occupied.

SQUATTER OR ROBBER’S INNER MONOLOGUE: Damn, I thought this house might be empty, considering its condition and the lack of tire tracks in the snow-covered driveway and the accumulation of mail and newspapers, and the fact that all the lights are off, but it sounds like two people inside are discussing current economic issues in a lively fashion. I’d better go rob or squat elsewhere.

Another crime averted by AM radio.