Stressed Out

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targetlogo-6 Picture from Target.com

 

Balancing two floundering hobbies, writing and stand up comedy, has shown me that to truly be a successful failure, you need to expand your “brand”. So, I’m going to get into independent filmmaking. My first feature will be a melodramatic reboot of the 1952 classic, High Noon. There will be no dialogue, just me, cast with someone younger and better looking, of course, standing on the hood of a Prius hybrid in a Target parking lot, eating a veggie sub from Whole Foods, staring down people I disagree with as they walk into a Chick Fil A.

The working title is Dumb Down.

The latest fake crisis of my fellow Christians and others boycotting the red big box store for reiterating their bathroom policy of allowing transgender people to use the toilet of their choice reminds of when I was made fun of for my own crisis of conscience in 2012. Four years ago, while working for a now defunct left-leaning political and pop culture site, Sprocket Ink (may we all rest in internet peace), I wrote a column called Tastes Like Bigotry in response to the head honcho of Chick Fil A bashing same-sex marriage (and divorced people, of which, I am) and I told my readers as well as friends and family I was going break my waffle fry addiction and boycott them. Lost in the hullabaloo was the fact, and always lost in hullabaloos are facts, that Chick Fil A was giving money to multiple anti-gay groups including one funneling cash into Uganda where gays were targeted for execution.

Thus, my joke paragraph works, in theory.

What’s really at stake between us who disagree on major issues through political discourse is how we can no longer talk to each other without flushing intelligence and reason down the commode, Target one or not.

It’s an election season so that means the guy who shoved you in a locker in the seventh grade then demanded to cheat off your paper and the girl who called you fat in the ninth grade and later stole your boyfriend are posting their political opinions in meme form while screaming in all caps and exclamation points for any “real Christ followers” to sign the boycott Target petition on the Book Of Face that’s allegedly up to 900,000 Mensa members.

Excuse me while I Cheshire Cat my 2012 existence by mewing I told you so and smirking at the hypocrisy.

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The weirdness of how all of us, and notice what I just typed, all of us, act online and off  these days is the strange bedfellows it makes.

I’m a southern born, bred and living Christian who likes fried chicken and sweet tea as well a good football running game and a lazy dog on the front porch. But if you were to ask my much more conservative family and friends, I’m what’s ruining the country because you know, liberals hate the Lord and America and love the gays and the Crossfit.

I read the same book my right-winging friends do and as a result I know there’s a significant section of the tome we Baptists and Pentecostals like to call “the red letters“. Those are the ones Jesus spoke. For the unfamiliar or quite frankly, the liars who don’t really read them but say they do, no where in said red letters does the Son Of God, whom I believe existed, died on the cross for my sins and tells me that his salvation is what I need for eternal life after I pass, mention homosexuality, transgenders, liberals, Hillary Clinton, organic foods, NPR, Bernie Sanders, PBS, hybrid cars or retail store potties. The Prince Of Peace does talk a lot about loving your neighbor, being kind, finding common ground, watching your temper and not being a jerk hole on the media that are social. I’m taking liberties with the last one.

Whether any of us can agree and last night I found myself in a good natured argument with my wife about which sixteen-year-old on Chopped Teen Tournament made the best dessert, is pointless if we can’t talk to each other with respect. For the record, Jessica crushed it with her strawberry shortcake crumble and picked up the 25 grand for college.

I wish I saved my hate mail from the 2012 stroll down internet infamy lane. A lot of them came from Christians. I also wish I was good at statistics, graphs and charts so I could share how positive my experience with people who are different from me – gay, bisexual, non-white, wiccans, atheists and fans of the band Journey are in comparison to my poor record with white middle-aged suburban Christians who like a good Van Halen record.

What stresses me out the most is how serious people I’m supposed to like, love, trust and agree with take the least of things in life, so extremely serious. And I wish I could say I was better at this character flaw, too.

I’m over 800 words and haven’t done a dad gum thing to send the country down the tubes since breakfast. I don’t want to disappoint my “fans”.

Thanks, I’m here all week, try the veal but only from Super Target.

God Bless.

Here’s Twenty One Pilots.

Pretty Pimpin’ – Athens Comedy Showcase

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Few people know this about me, but I started working in media over a quarter century ago at the University of Alabama for two different radio stations. I interviewed comedians and musicians before getting involved in both art forms later.

This Monday, April 25th, my friends Alia Ghosheh and Veronica Darby will be hosting a Comedy Showcase at Flicker Bar in Athens, Georgia. I’ll be doing 10 minutes of stand up, myself. But the lineup is much better than your My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog writer.

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Opening will be accomplished author and comedian Hollis Gillespie (her books include Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch, Confessions of a Recovering Slut, and Trailer Trashed.) and the headliner/closer is Joe Gallois, a much talked about and hilarious Atlanta comedy veteran. I interviewed both and here’s how their tales of funny played out.

Hollis Gillespie:

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Joe Gallois:

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Blog:  How long have you been doing comedy and what drew you to it?

Hollis: I became a humor writer in 1993. Until then I’d been an investigative reporter and a financial reporter. I wrote an explosive expose about the horrible conditions of the Fulton County Children’s Shelter in 1992, which resulted in the closing down of a multi-million dollar county-funded facility. I was good at what I did, but I didn’t have the countenance to continue after that. I found humor to be more enriching and more effective in promoting change. It’s always drawn me. I’ve been hanging out at ATL comedy clubs since the early 90s. Before then I hung out at LA and San Diego comedy clubs.

Joe: I’ve been doing stand up for over 7 years. I guess what drew me to comedy was the idea of entertaining an audience. I’m not a comedian who has issues he or she has to work out onstage (there’s 23 other hours in the day to work on those).  I don’t have a cause or issue I’m fighting for. I just like the idea of giving an audience a memorable performance.

Blog: What and who are your influences, comedy and other?

Hollis: My earliest influences were Lenny Bruce and (sadly) Bill Cosby.

Joe: My biggest influence in comedy is Norm MacDonald.  Cause whether it was on SNL or doing stand up, he always seemed to stick to his guns and didn’t let a negative reaction from the audience dictate anything on his end.  Also while not stand up comedy, I was heavily influenced by MTV’s The State and all of their future incarnations and collaborations (Stella, Reno 911, Wet Hot American Summer, etc); they showed me that dumb humor can be done smart.

Blog:  Hollis, I’m a writer too, tell me how writing helps or hinders you in comedy?

As a writer, comedy has saved me from pitching myself face-first into a river. I’ve enjoyed a lot of success as a writer, but I’ve also watched the craft devolve — especially in journalism, where everything seems to be reduced to a list (“10 Best Bars in Atlanta!”) that NOBODY bothers to actually research beyond the first page of Google search results. For me, the trend would would be really demoralizing if not for humor. But that said, I do see a resurgence of authentic old-fashioned gum-shoe journalism lately, thank God.

Blog: Joe, are you artistic in any other ways besides stand up?

Joe: No, if I drew you a picture you’d think it was done by a 6 year old, if I sang you song, you’d think it was sung by someone who just got out of surgery.
Blog: What are your  opinions on the Atlanta and Athens comedy scenes?
Hollis: I’m new to the Athens comedy scene, so I’m looking forward to partaking in it!
Joe: I think both the Atlanta and Athens comedy scenes are top notch!
Blog: What does the future look like for you with stand up, writing, and tv?
Hollis: Here’s the thing: Tell the truth. And if it pisses people off, then you know your message is relevant.
Joe: To continue doing what I’m doing while becoming a better writer and performer; and if any opportunities arise from that…cool.
Hollis: Comedy is important. It’s the defender of expression. It will, literally, save the world.
Showtime at Flicker Bar in Athens, Georgia on 263 W. Washington Street is 7pm sharp, Monday night on April 25th.
Here’s Kurt Vile’s Pretty Pimpin’.

Let’s Go Crazy

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This post belongs to a blog hop of friends, go read theirs.

Smacksy

Good Day Regular People

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

The Mama Bird Diaries

Midlife Mixtape

When Did I Get Like This?

Arnebya

Up Popped A Fox

The Flying Chalupa

Suburban Scrawl

Elizabeth McGuire

Two Cannoli

Genie in a Blog

  I have some pretty “out there” music freak friends. We’ve all done things that normal people would consider to be certifiably insane, perhaps criminally so, to hear, see and experience great music. On March 12, 1993, I did something, a series of things, that no conventional thinking person would’ve done to see Prince in concert. His shocking death at the age of 57 not only has eliminated any regrets I had, but it made what seemed like a good idea at the time, become a terrible one and back into a good idea, all at once.

In March of ’93, I was wrapping 4 1/2 years as a student at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa with undergraduate degrees in communications and English. I had handed in my senior thesis papers and was essentially done as Crimson Tider. I was in a serious but failing relationship with an older woman, co-managing a friend’s alternative rock band, working for two different radio stations and trying to not freak out about my uncertain future.

My soon to be ex was a major Prince fan. I was knee deep in being a punk rock jerk and Nirvana fanboi and had decided anything ’80s was awful and should be shot like a lame horse. For some reason, I gave Prince a pass. And went to a concert without her.

After an epic fight with my girlfriend, I was hanging out in a bar in Birmingham, Alabama with my friends’ band, watching them drink their profits for playing earlier when the drummer’s wife said “hey, I can’t go to the Prince concert tomorrow night, who wants my ticket?”

The night was hazy and so was I, but somehow I accepted the ticket for whatever money I had in my pocket.

The show was in Atlanta, my hometown, thirty-five miles from where I grew up. I was without any money and a once in a generation ice storm had enveloped the southeast. Yet, there I was, in the back of 1970s four door something, I think it was an Oldsmobile, with a bad transmission.

We broke down a couple of miles from the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. An argument developed between the driver and one of my friends that led to fisticuffs. This was a winner of a night.

Finally, me and two friends who shall remain nameless but there are no innocents in this story, walked to the Fox and what happened next can only be described as Purple Pleasure.

For over two hours, Prince slayed a city. It was unbelievable. The capper was an almost 10 minute tour de force performance of Let’s Go Crazy. I could feel the flu growing inside of me after the long walk in the ice and rain but the Paisley Prince of rock and roll made me feel like I was perfectly fine.

Prince’s death is devastating. He was a musical genius who could do anything, artistically. I have more memories with his music than I realized. The news of his passing brought them all on. The fact that his last ever show was at the same Fox Theatre I saw him at in 1993 is both poetic and heartbreaking.

He will be missed.

After I left his amazing show, I had to call my soon to be ex-girlfriend to drive four plus hours to come pick me up. I was a terrible boyfriend, a stupid 22-year-old kid and very immature to even think about going to that concert. But that’s what Prince did, bring out the crazy in so many of us.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. I regret nothing.

Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called life

Electric word life
It means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell you
There’s something else
The after world

A world of never ending happiness
You can always see the sun, day or night

So when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills
You know the one, Dr. Everything’ll Be Alright
Instead of asking him how much of your time is left
Ask him how much of your mind, baby

‘Cause in this life
Things are much harder than in the after world
In this life
You’re on your own

https://www.izlesene.com/video/prince-lets-go-crazy/5275039

Unconditional Love

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We read the same book but our love isn’t similar. The disconnect isn’t defined by punditry or delivered by bumper sticker.

You point your finger and swing your sword, I do the same and we both swear it’s unconditional love.

If there’s a record, it’s broken and the needle is too dull to screech.

Lost in the wrong is whether we can afford to be right, at this point let’s place our orders in as few words as possible, because we’re busy.

South of here, wherever we are, is the hell we’re assigned, unless we can turn the car around.

*****blogger’s note****

This is a new 100 words for my friend Tara’s Thin Spiral Notebook, 100 Word Challenge of SOUTH. https://thinspiralnotebook.com/2016/04/13/100-word-challenge-south/

Here’s Against Me!.

Heroes; Batman v Superman Is a Dickens Of A Good Time

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Charles Dickens may have been writing about The French Revolution but I think he also predicted the internet and pop culture now, 157 years ago.

On Friday, I took a half day off from work to pick up my spring-breaking 12-year-old daughter from our home then hit up the local mega Mall theater-plex to see Batman v Superman. I grew up a comic book geek. There were no cards to carry certifying this but trust me when I tell you that at age 14 I started hiding my “graphic novels” so I could get a girl to find me not repulsive. It took a while. In fact, I was so excited to see the latest gazillion dollar superhero movie that my daughter had to calm me down wise-cracking “dad, your superpower was finding two different people to marry you.”

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Before I get to whether Batman v Superman is worth your time and ten bucks, I backtrack to where we are as a culture, specifically driven by the internet.

We’re screwed.

It seems the inability to enjoy a two and a half hour escapist flick featuring men and women in spandex with bodies built by Crossfit floors me.

Whether it’s the Star Wars crowd or the Harry Potter bunch or the one I belong to, the Superhero throng; we just can’t like crap.

The movie review site Rotten Tomatoes has Batman v Superman hovering around 30 to 35 percent, meaning the movie’s very bad. All of these reviews came in before the movie opened worldwide Friday. To break this down even further, less than 10 percent of the population was telling the rest that something sucked.

Sound familiar? Like maybe politics, where at max, 30 percent of the United States is dictating who should be its Presidential candidates in the Fall?

Whether we’re experiencing The French Revolution as a culture is yet to be determined. I think we’re 5th Century Rome and majority of us are Nero and Caligula combined watching the whole thing burn in an orgy of stupidity.

But I liked the movie.

Superheroes are like family to me. They got me through my middle school bullied years. They massaged me through a divorce and the loss of actual family members. I’m the target audience for these things, despite the fact I’ll be 46-years-old in September. You’d think I’d be the tight-ass nerd who’d be destroying Batman v Superman because Lex Luthor’s played as a twitchy coked up goof by The Social Network Network’s Jesse Eisenberg. You’d assume I’d be outraged by what happens to Henry Cavil’s Superman. You could even come to the conclusion that the lack of character development, the weird dream sequences, the movie’s ridiculous length, Zack Snyder’s bizarre directorial choices and the too little time Wonder freaking Woman spends on screen made me so furious that I banged my keyboard in cyber fury.

No. It’s a movie. And my 12-year-old daughter and I liked it.

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I may or may not have dabbed my watering eyes (allergies) at the end when a beloved character has something happen to them. That may or may not have made my daughter point and laugh at me. But I did like how Batman v Superman set up 3 movies which will likely be superior and take more of my cash – Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman and Justice League, all of which will be released over the next 18 months.

Batman v Superman is too long and poorly directed but overall it’s good and it’s fun. Gal Gadot is a future star as Wonder Woman. Her seven and a half minutes are worth the whole watch. Ben Affleck is appropriately dour, angry and pumped up as Batman. I venture to say he gives Christian Bale and Michael Keaton a run for their titles as best Batmen ever, the future movies he appears in as the character will determine this.

Most of all, Batman v Superman is a good memory. My daughter and I had a blast for almost 3 hours, laughing at me, pumping our fists at the cool stuff and enjoying something that meant the world to me at her age, and hopefully for her at her age, too. My daughter and I were heroes, just for one day.

See it, don’t see it, read a book, donate your time and money to charity; I don’t care. It was the best Friday afternoon I’ve had in a while. If Charles Dickens was alive today, I’d tell him my Batman v Superman experience was one of the best of times.

Let them eat popcorn.

Here’s Bowie.

Campus

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I don’t consider myself a jealous person but since my oldest daughter started college almost two years ago, I’ll admit to a lot of envy of my 20-year-old’s life. The four and a half years I spent at the University of Alabama in the late 1980s and early 1990s provide a lot of fond memories.

Since I started doing stand up comedy again in May 2015, some of my best experiences have happened in Athens, Georgia, which surrounds the University of Georgia.

From headlining for the first time at the Office Lounge in January to becoming a regular at Livewire, Flicker Bar and Go Bar I’ve had the opportunity to become reacquainted with a college town.

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At 45-years-old, I’m way too “seasoned” to do more than perform at the comedy clubs, usually with a diet soda in my hand, but the feeling of a school town is always comfortable. It’s the opposite of whatever the suburb is, and I live in one of those.

Mondays are the (sort of) usual gig(s). Flicker Bar has taken the place of Office and Livewire as the “show up go up” venue for comedians. The comedy show is run by Alia Ghosheh and Veronica Darby. At the end of each month is the showcase, where a headliner act and a feature cap off the night. I had my shot at it back in January. Paula Gilchrist is the headliner for March 28th.

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Go Bar is another spot, with a bi-weekly open mic run by University of Georgia student and fellow stand up comic Caroline Schmitt.

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I’m not taking classes, but some of the social lessons I’m learning from being back in a college town are helping me relate to my daughter who is in downtown Atlanta at Georgia State University. It’s a lot easier to make fun of “millennials” when they’re sitting in front of you laughing, most of the time.

I’ll be at Flicker Bar March 21st and Go Bar the same night. Come to Athens, Georgia and see some funny people, and me too.

Here’s Vampire Weekend.

Give A Little Bit

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Since I wander through life with little to no confidence and obviously write and do stand up comedy to garner positive attention in the smallest amounts possible, I surprised myself with how I reacted to this photograph.

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You may not find a more cynical, sarcastic and negative reacting person than me, especially concerning politics, current events or any news involving people who make more money and have more power than I’ll ever know.

My immediate physical, emotional and instinctual response to seeing Hillary Clinton’s smiling face nestled into a grinning George W. Bush’s neck wasn’t a snarky “thanks for the 2003 war vote Hill, I couldn’t have done it without you” or a vicious “yeah, Dubya, we’re screwing them over one election at a time”, but a quiet, polite “that’s nice and the way it should be all the time.”

The way I responded to that picture is how I react to my 3 daughters when they listen to Taylor Swift. I know the music’s lame but they’re so happy, I just shrug off my punk rock nature and enjoy the moment with them.

I think it’s time everyone has the same experience. We’re living in a period when you can’t disagree with someone without denigrating their very existence. I’m guilty of this as much as the rest of you. I’ve written online, from a decidedly left-wing, anti-establishment point of view for over a decade. I’ve engaged in behavior that I’m not proud of and am quite embarrassed by, so much so, I wonder if I’ve driven away good people that I’ll never get back.

The political ramifications of what the former President and the current candidate have done in their professional lives are staggering. We can argue that for years and until our blue faces cause us to drop dead from hypertension. But what will not happen by doing this is finding common ground so we can exist harmoniously in the smallest of moments.

President Bush and Secretary Clinton were at former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s funeral when the picture was snapped last week. I’ve made it a personal practice to not speak ill of the dead. Since November 2005 I’ve lost 17 family members and close friends. I’m at an age, 45, when this just happens. During these times, disagreements and strife help no one. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have your political opinions about George and Hill nor am I saying they deserve your reverence if you feel it isn’t warranted. Yet, that photo shows that during a time of grief, it’s okay to just be human. We want our leaders to be examples and there, in one shot, two people who may have promoted so much fighting among us, did just that.

Vote for who you wish this political season. I don’t care if you turn your media that are social accounts into vehicles of activism. If the political candidate I don’t like wins, I’m doing to stay right where I am and complain every single day because I’m an American, dang it. But, somewhere along the way, let’s all take the time to give a little bit of your humanity to those you disagree with because you never know how long they’ll be around for a smile, a hug or a thank you.

Here’s Supertramp.