Saturday, August 27, 2005

What planet am I on?


I don't want to say Alaska is far, but I practically had to go to outer space to get here. I had all of yesterday off and I went to the Alaska state fair up in Palmer. It was fun. I saw a lumberjack show, but oddly enough the show was based out of northern Wisconsin. I had to come to the North Pole to see a bunch of cheeseheads throw axes.

Right now I'm at a martini bar in downtown Anchorage, they have a Wi Fi set up which is pretty cool. Good internet access has been hard to find here. My hotel's only internet option is in their "business center," which is a lone PC, a multi-function fax printer thingy, and that's about it. And it has a slow connection. I mean slow. The computers in Afghanistan were faster and that country barely has electricity.

Well, I better get going. I feel obligated to buy drinks while I'm here using the WiFi but my show is in a couple of hours and there's only so many diet cokes I can down without going completely nutty.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Playing Cards with an Accidental Tourist

This morning I began my trek to Alaska, the first leg of which involves me getting to the Port Authority bus terminal to catch a bus to Newark airport. While waiting for the next bus a man walked up to me. Dressed in a polo shirt and khaki pants, a quick first impression should have gotten me to conclude that this guy had somewhere to be, had something to do, or was an otherwise productive member of society.

But I didn't. I think it was the sunglasses. He was wearing sunglasses indoors at nine in the morning. And it was also the way he came all the way up to me before he said anything.

He got into my space and asked, "I was wondering if you could help me."

This guy's probably going to ask for money, I thought, then immediately felt bad for making a snap judgment. Maybe he just has a question about the bus.

So I just looked him in the eye.

"Now," he said, "don't get irritated."

He's definitely going to ask me for money. Now I was annoyed, mostly at myself because I gave him the benefit of the doubt and he let me down.

I looked directly in his eyes, which made him uncomfortable. Nothing troubles a bullshit artist more than being confronted by his own soul.

He went through his half-assed speil about needing $2.25 for a bus ticket (a ridiculously specific amount of money always makes them feel like they're more believable). He could tell I wasn't buying it so he quickly got to the "can you help me out?" closer.

I said that I was sorry and that I couldn't help him.

He quickly turned around, grumbling, "thank you, that's very white of you."

Yes, he did. He played the race card.

I didn't give a stranger money in the Port Authority bus terminal and I'm therefore some kind of racist. I wasn't suckered by a panhandler in New York and somehow I've poorly represented my people. Sorry.

As he walked away grumbling (you'd think a panhandler would take rejection better, must have been because he knew I knew he was full of b.s.) I said, "there are three other people in here you could ask."

There were indeed three other upstanding citizens in the waiting room: a guy dressed as a pilot, an Indian dude, and an African-American man in a suit. But he didn't need help badly enough to ask any of them, he just walked up to the white boy with a backpack on his back who looked the most gullible and the most like a tourist.

Well, if you canít get $2.25 out of a gullible white tourist, youíre not much of a scam artist are you?

I see your race card and I raise you a pair of you're an idiots.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

My Weekend with the Stars

I don't mean to brag too much, but my weekend in the Corpus Christi/Kingsville, Texas area was star-studded.

When I checked into the hotel in downtown Corpus Christi, I could tell that there was something just a little bit off. I smelled geeky subculture. Something about the wacky bumper stickers on the cars in the parking lot, the preponderance of goth teens, the guy dressed in full Klingon gear directing traffic.

Yes, my good fortune found me at the same hotel as a gamers convention. That's video and role playing games I'm guessing. It was a confluence of sci fi, anime, and role playing game fans complete with celebrity appearances by Mirina Sirtis (that's Counselor Troy from Star Trek:TNG), Erin Grey (Wilma Dearing from the Buck Rogers series of the late 70's/early 80's), and Peter Mayhew.

Peter Mayhew.

That's Chewbacca.

But the celebrity train kept on rolling when I hit Kingsville. I was doing a show at Texas A&M--Kingsville, and before showtime I was kicking around the hallways of the student union. On the wall outside the room I was performing in were pictures of past Miss Texas A&M Kingsville winners. Some were pretty, some Stepford scary, but one, from 1996 was rather nice. Here she is:



If you can't make out the name at the bottom it's Eva Longoria.

That's right, Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria. Miss Texas A&M Kingsville 1996: Eva Longoria. I'm going to write her name a few more times so web searches for Eva Longoria show up here.

Yes, Eva was a proud Javelina. If you ever meet her, say "Hey Javalina!" or even "What's up Hog?" (TAMUK's affectionate nickname for their mascot).

I know I'm going to, and hopefully her NBA boyfriend's bodyguards won't beat my ass.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

GTT

Gone To Texas

Back in the 1830's people would just scratch 'GTT' on a piece of wood and leave it on the door of their shack, homestead, whatever, and people would know that they've moved to Texas to start over, escape, or disappear.

I'll just be gone for a day-and-a-half though, doing a show at West Texas A&M--Kingsville, outside of Corpus Christi.

I've actually been to Kingsville, Texas before. How's that for priorities? I'll have been to Kingsville, Texas twice and Hawaii nonce. Come on Hawaii, wouldn't you like some Rob P. in your life?

That came out wrong. Screw it. GTT.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Word of Mouth

In a bid to become a more productive member of society, I’ve been getting up earlier and heading into Manhattan to get stuff done. Of the many things I’ve discovered in the new world of pre-noon New York I believe my favorite is the guy in Union Square handing out copies of AM New York.

Every day while standing at the top of the stairs he hands out papers and he repeats an advertising slogan, and each day it’s different. Today it was “HSBC, your neighborhood bank.” Yesterday it was a restaurant, before that a Broadway play. He’s like Wesley Willis without the songs.

So I’ve begun to wonder, are his announcements part of his job as a newspaper distributor or is he freelancing? Does AM New York have some sort of oral advertising program or is he approached on the side by someone else? What are his rates? Can I hire him for a day to promote my show?

And then I think, why don’t I just sit at the top of the stairs handing out postcards and repeating my slogan, “The Comedy Pro Shop, professional comics in an intimate setting”?

Aside from the fear of running into a hated ex-roommate while being strategically positioned at the top of a flight of stairs, I remember that it looks much more pathetic when someone in a show is handing out flyers for said show. If Nathan Lane were in Union Square handing out flyers for a new show he’d instantly drop from being one of Broadway’s best bets to waiting tables at The Russian Tea Room.

Who knew word of mouth advertising could get so institutionalized? I guess I should stick to paying NYU freshman girls to tattoo my show info on their lower backs.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The FRENCH?!?

I was at a barbecue this weekend and mentioned that I went to a Bastille day party thrown by French troops at a base in Afghanistan, and two of the Upstate New Yorkers that were listening said, "The French?" with the same shock and mortification as if I had just said Hitler was my golfing buddy.

"Yeah, they've been in Afghanistan since the beginning."

The woman stared at me.

She had no idea how to assimilate this information. These are the French after all, the people we villified as being cowards and weasels because they had the audacity to question whether or not there were actually WMDs in Iraq. Such gaul.

Well, I'm sorry to report, they're in Afghanistan.

Again, actual facts are rather inconvenient when you're up against anger, indignation and Freedom Fries, but what can you do.

I'm not trying to be political or anything, you can still hate the French if you want to, I'm just constantly surprised how a simple little tidbit of information can shake up someone who's so sure of their opinions.

And if you're one of those people, turn away now...

because...

I also saw...

Norweigans!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Where can a man get some primaquine?

So I'm halfway through the 14-day course of the anti-malaria drug primaquine and I lost the little baggie that the pills were in. I'm hoping it fell out of my bag at home and it's there when I get back.

Since I got the stuff when a doctor in Paktika Province heard I had gotten bitten by a couple of mosquitos the night before, I don't have a prescription. Also, I don't have a doctor here at home because I don't have any really usable health insurance.

Which all leads me to the wonderful conclusion that I had better medical attention in the third world than I do in my own country, which happens to be the U.S. of A. I was in one of the poorest countries in the world and I had a doctor 50 feet away from where I was staying.

The upside is that the medics and doctors in Afghanistan treat the locals when they can. At the same medical facility I saw a local girl getting treated for a broken arm and there was an older woman getting gall bladder surgery.

So if you're out there and have some medical issues to clear up, get yourself to an F.O.B.* in Afghanistan and have it checked out.

While you're there could you pick me up some primaquine?

*Forward Operations Base