Monday, September 22, 2014

Life Continues

While dancing the other night, one of the people I was with asked, "How do you know the words to all these songs?"

Because I spent all those years while you were in grad school at the bar with pro wrestlers, stand-up comics and Jason Man-Kai Yeung absorbing the worlds to Akon's "Sexy B***h."

Oh sure. You might have a job and a car and be educated and stuff, but when it comes to bringing sexy back...WHO WASTED THEIR LIFE NOW? WHO WASTED THEIR LIFE NOW?

Still me?

Sigh.

Take 'em to the Chorus

Thursday, March 06, 2014

The Nephew Diaries (Continued)

I forgot to mention...as of February 8, I am an uncle yet again.

I got over to see him the day after he was born. My sister was trying to get mom to take a picture of the new family, a task made more difficult by the older nephew who was trying to grapple the new baby and had to be held back by my brother in law. Nephew was not happy about it and started screaming at the top of his lungs.

It led to some interesting pictures.

My favorite was one where all four member of my sister's family had completely different expressions on their face: Baby sleeping, Sister smiling, Nephew screaming, Brother-in-law looking uncertain.

If there were captions in the picture, they would have read like this.

SISTER: Look at me! I'm not pregnant anymore! I feel so pretty!
BABY: This sleeping thing is pretty boss.
NEPHEW: FUUUUUCK! MYYYYYY! LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIFE!
BROTHER-IN-LAW:  Faking one's death and moving to South America. How does that work? Asking for a friend.

I love them all.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Uncle Diaries (Continued)

Nephew is 2 and talking now. Some short notes.:

He figured out a few weekends ago that  'Uncle' is a title and not a name. He spent the next five minutes experimenting with 'Uncle Daddy,' 'Uncle Grandma,' and 'Uncle Auntie Christina.' Yesterday he tried "Grandpa Uncle Gramma Dan."

*  *  *

He's also started parroting my exclamations of shock like "Holy Dinah!" "Oh, MAAAN," and "Great Scott!" My favorite was the Holy Cow episode, well, because...

ME: Holy Cow!
NEPHEW: Holy cow! Holy Cow! *long pause while he thinks about it* Holy Horse! Holy Chicken! Holy Cat! Holy Dragon!

He's a clever one.

*  *  *
My sister told me this story.

NEPHEW: Momma happy?
SISTER: Yes, Momma's happy. Is Sam happy?
NEPHEW: Sam not happy. Sam FUNNY!

If my nephew would rather be funny than happy, I have a feeling he'll do well in a stand-up comedy.

The Red Deer Legion beckons, blood of my blood. The Red Deer Legion beckons.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Santa After Christmas

I'm depressed right now, and I'm going to tell you why, but before I do, let me quickly say, this is normal for me and there's nothing to be alarmed about.

I'm just going through what I call a post-show hangover. This one is a little bigger than usual because I've been busier than usual for which I'm profoundly grateful.

I don't know if it's because of the amount of energy I put into shows has left me emotionally depleted, if I'm sad the show is over, or it's just from the feeling of coming back to earth--one night you're a star; the next morning you have to get up and clean your kitchen.

Maybe I'm just lonely.

That's something I try not to think about. I tell myself that the lifestyle I love is hard on partners. I tell myself things are a lot easier when I'm not in a relationship.

But there's always that quiet reply, scratching behind the walls of my subconscious. It looks at the things I've accomplished from mountain climbing to martial arts tournaments; television shows, short stories, and newspaper articles; recording, writing, and performing. I look at the most rewarding relationships in my past and the people who are still part of my life and says: When have you EVER shied away from doing  something because it was easier?

I was telling the Slayer about my post-show hangover and she suggested it was like the Day after Christmas.

Maybe. I imagine it's like the Day After Christmas...if you're Santa Claus.

You spend all night racing around the world joyfully doing what you feel you're born to do, what you spend your life preparing for. The next morning, while everyone else is celebrating and opening presents, you wake up alone by yourself at the North Pole, your boots and red suit spread all over the floor cause you were too tired to do anything besides pull them off and fall into bed.

Your present is to clean up and start getting ready for next year.

This is where I'm grateful for my family and non-show business friends. I neglect them shamefully when I'm preparing. Often even when I'm with them, I'm not totally with them because part of my mind is occupied with thinking of new jokes or things to write, processing the lessons from last night's show or thinking of the things I need to do to get ready for the next one.

But being around them keeps me grounded. It reminds me there's more to life than preparing and performing, even though most days, I wish there wasn't. They remind me I can be a brother, a son, a friend, and a co-worker.

It's weird because I often don't completely understand my more 'normal' friends and I suspect they don't totally get me. I often feel like I'm waving to them from a boat on the river, not understanding why they won't leave the shore.

But I also envy the shore. I envy a lot of their lives. Truthfully, I oftenwant what they have...but I'm not willing to give up the life I love to get it.

I'm probably not explaining this well. Oddly enough, the best description of this feeling I've ever seen was in Georges St-Pierre's book 'Way of the Fight.' It's weird to see what feels like a description of yourself in the final chapter of a Mixed Martial Artist's ghostwritten autobiography, but there you go(*).

Today I saw my parents, my sister, and my nephew for the first time in weeks. It was awesome.

Last night I had dinner with a friend from New Zealand I had met five years ago when he was travelling through town on a work visa. We ended up hanging out the whole summer. I hadn't expected to see him again, but when he came through town with his girlfriend, it was great to get a chance to catch up.

Already, I'm feeling better.

Already, I'm starting to look forward to the next show.

And when the inevitable hangover comes, I know I can handle it. I know that lonely or not, depressed or no, all I need to do is look around and realize I already have everything and everyone a man could possibly need.

(*) Another thing I really like about the GSP book is how much time he spends in it talking about fear, indeed, it's practically the central theme of his book. I've noticed most performers downplay the role fear plays in what we do. Many non-performers think we're fearless. The truth is, many of us deal with fear a lot. We use it as motivation, learn to overcome with it, or simply accept that we can be afraid and still do what we set out to do to the best of our ability.

Upcoming Meditation Instruction (see website for details)
Sunday, June 2- Strathcona Library, Edmonton (2:00 pm)
Saturday, June 22 - Strathcona Library, Edmonton (10:30am)
Saturday, July 6 - Strathcona Library, Edmonton (10:30am)


Upcoming Wrestling
Saturday, June 15 - Revolution Pro Wrestling - Lorelei Beaumaris Community Hall - Edmonton

Writing
The Compassionate Degenerate's Hungry Ghost Cafe

Dan's writing on Dating and relationships can be found at thegatewayboyfriend.blogspot.com

Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

That Metal Show

Hard to believe that one of the best wrestling shows I can remember began with me being very stressed out over a barely-working microphone.

Saturday, Revolution Pro Wrestling made their debut, featuring a guest appearance by wrestling legend Jake the Snake Roberts. It was probably one of the most fun shows I've been a part of in a while.

There wasn't anything fancy about it. No complicated matches or intricate storylines. It was nothing more than a handful of singles matches featuring guys who had learned how to do their job well over the years.

I've noticed over the years, the best wrestling shows are often the simplest. The more complicated things get the tougher it is for fans to follow. Perhaps even more importantly, the more complicated it is, the more mental energy performers need to spend thinking about what comes next.

I don't know if wrestlers are like me, but when I'm spending time thinking about what's supposed to happen next, I'm not thinking about what is happening now and a lot of the fundamentals--timing, rhythm, little touches that establish character--tend to fall to the wayside.

And if there's one thing I've learned in almost anything I've done from dancing to Distress Line, there is no substitute for the fundamentals.

Less complex means time to focus on the one thing that really matters--connecting with the audience.
The Revolution Show was great for that. Simple stories told by experienced performers. Certainly it made my job easier and more fun. I think it was one of my better shows as a ring announcer.

But wait, you ask. What about that not-so-good microphone?

I'm glad you asked.

An hour before the show I was sitting on a cheap chair beside the backstage curtain worrying about that damn microphone. More specifically, I was wondering how well I'd be able to perform with a weak sound system.

And I really wanted to perform well. Part of it was because I always want to perform well, but I had a little added pressure. You see, the person running the show--his first show--was none other than Heavy Metal (*).

Long time readers are familiar with Heavy Metal. For those of you who aren't, he's a wrestler who has been a fixture in my life and my most unpredictable adventures over the last few years. Read the archives. He's in a lot of them.

Over the years, Heavy Metal has gained more experienced not just as a wrestler but in the creative and promotional elements of putting shows together. Revolution Pro Wrestling and the Pick Your Poison event was the result of all his hard work.

I didn't want to let him down, especially since I was feeling guilty about how little I had contributed in terms of help or support in the weeks leading up to the show.

My chance to redeem myself was here and this goddamn Piece of Shit microphone wasn't going to let me do it.

You can measure the weight of a microphone in ounces, but this particular mic was weighing on my chest like Yokozuna. There's no way I can be loud enough to overcome this mic. I either won't be heard or I'll lose my voice. They won't be able to hear Jake Roberts and he'll probably blame me for the microphone. The show will be ruined and it's ALL MY FAULT.

And then, another voice.

Let it go.

Never mind what's out of your control. What CAN you do?

Seems to me I've heard that voice before.

What I could do, I realized, was the very best I could with the equipment and ability available to me.

And just like that, Yokozuna was gone.

The show went well. I let the crowd know when I went up about the problems I was having with the mic and for wrestling fans, they were pretty good about it.

It helped, of course, that the show was so good.

The wrestling was great. The show stayed on track. Jake had no problems making himself heard and having the audience hold on to every word.

And I was pretty good too, if I do say so myself.

If a show is terrible, there isn't much a ring announcer can do to help. If the wrestling is bad or confusing or the show is disorganized or disjointed, the crowd loses faith and once the show has lost credibility , it's really hard to do much other than announce weights and hometowns, explain gimmick matches and storylines as best as possible, try not to mispronounce anyone's name, and get out of the way without adding to the confusion. There's nothing you can do to make things better; all you can do is try not to make them worse.

But when the talent does well, something different happens.

The crowd starts to come together. Instead of being two hundred seperate individuals, their energy coalesces to form a sort of a group energy. I realize I'm not explaining this very well, so you're going to have to take my word for it. The important takeaway is this: once the audience is on the same emotional page, it becomes possible to work with that collective energy. Once it forms, you can learn to read it and--if you're good enough--start to shape and direct it.

If you have that, a good ring announcer can make a difference. Because you're out there for the whole show, you can get a baseline of where the crowd is and where they need to be. You know when to pump them up for what comes next. You can see when you need to stretch for a little extra time between matches to give them a chance to come down from what they've already seen.

It's a tightrope walk, keeping them engaged and entertained but not letting them burn themselves out before the main event. It feels like you're surfing on their energy or conducting an orchestra using nothing more than your voice--tone, word choices, volume, and even silence. A list of sponsors becomes more than just a list of sponsors; it's a way of letting the crowd catch their breath. Announcing match stipulations isn't just listing a set of rules; it's also a way of building anticipation and energy for the next match.

And if you're really good you can hit the holy grail of ring announcing--doing all those things without anyone noticing you're doing them..

Sure, glitches still happen. But when you and the rest of the show are in the zone, they don't matter. When a crowd is invested in a show, it's just one more thing that makes the show stand out, another opportunity to use your creativity instead of the latest in a domino run of disasters. Those mistakes are just another opportunity to use your creativity.

Saturday I thought I did a better job than I ever have in the past, mic problems notwithstanding.

But I couldn't have done it without Metal, Duggan, the rest of the boys in the back, and of course the front of the house crew--the concessions, merchandise, ticket takers and venue people that make it possible for all of us to do what we do.

I'm grateful to you all, and I offer congratulations again to Heavy Metal and his team. You did a great job.

Now let's talk about that goddamn microphone...

POST SCRIPT:

I was ecstatic to learn after the show that King Kash was planning to bring his mic and sound system to the next show. Right up until the next day when I read on the Revolution Pro Facebook page that he'd been suspended for 60 days for attacking Big Jess Youngblood and Kevy Chevy.

*Ring announcer sighs, wraps microphone cord around his neck, hands a goodbye note to the ref, and steps off the ring apron*

(*) I'm extolling the virtues of simplicity here, but in the spirit of transparency, Metal was involved in one of the most complicated feuds I've witnessed in two and a half decades of wrestling fandom, a Game of Thrones-esque epic featuring double- and triple-crosses, the tag team titles, the abduction and physical assault of one participant's wife, one near-riot (Have I told that story yet?), a cat kidnapping (no, really!), and a trip to Mexico that spanned eleven months, three countries, and approximately 4 927 tag team partners. It was awesome and incomprehensible at the same time. The feud ended with the principals on two completely different tag teams than the ones they started with--it was as though a war kicked off in 1987 between the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers and the Young Stallions and ended in 1990 with a match pitting the Quebecers against Power and Glory.

 Upcoming Comedy
Wednesday, May 15 - The Comic Strip, Edmonton
Thursday, May 16- The Comic Strip, Edmonton
Friday, May 17 - The Comic Strip, Edmonton
Saturday, May 18 - The Comic Strip, Edmonton
Sunday, May 19 - The Comic Strip, Edmonton

Upcoming Meditation Instruction (see website for details)
Sunday, June 2- Strathcona Library, Edmonton (2:00 pm)
Saturday, June 22 - Strathcona Library, Edmonton (10:30am)
Saturday, July 6 - Strathcona Library, Edmonton (10:30am)


Upcoming Wrestling
Saturday, June 15 - Revolution Pro Wrestling - Lorelei Beaumaris Community Hall - Edmonton

Writing
The Compassionate Degenerate's Hungry Ghost Cafe

Dan's writing on Dating and relationships can be found at thegatewayboyfriend.blogspot.com

Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What Can I Do Right Now?

When the staff of the comedy club cancels the show, I’m outraged.

There were seventeen people there. Not a lot, but we’ve done shows for smaller.

I can’t blame the staff, I guess. They’re young. None of them are management. They just want to enjoy their lives and that means not wasting time and energy dealing with less than twenty people who aren’t even ordering drinks.

But I hate losing a Show.

Every time on stage is precious. It’s a chance to perfect my craft. It’s another opportunity to reach somebody or do something amazing. It’s what I spend my entire waking life these days preparing for. As I approach 40, my life has shrunk: the crisis line, comedy, dancing, writing, wrestling. These are the things that matter--everything else will just let you down.

I feel my jaw tighen and my teeth clench. My stomach knots.
I don’t want this to be happening. I HATE this. I’m thirty-nine years old. I’m becoming aware that missed shows don’t necessarily come back. I’m angry, yes, but there’s also an edge of desperation too. How can we not have a show? I NEED to have a show. This can’t be happening.

In the middle of the storm, a voice reminds me that by resisting reality, I’m wasting my time.

Never mind what’s out of your control, it says. What CAN you do right now?

I circulate among the audience as they’re packing up. I apologize for not being able to perform for me and encourage them to come back. I take time to plug my upcoming shows at the same club and tell them I hope to see them there.

I can’t always do much. But I can almost always do SOMETHING.

We all can.

Upcoming Comedy
Wednesday, May 15 - The Comic Strip, Edmonton
Thursday, May 16- The Comic Strip, Edmonton
Friday, May 17 - The Comic Strip, Edmonton
Saturday, May 18 - The Comic Strip, Edmonton
Sunday, May 19 - The Comic Strip, Edmonton

Upcoming Meditation Instruction (see website for details)
Sunday, June 2- Strathcona Library, Edmonton (2:00 pm)
Saturday, June 22 - Strathcona Library, Edmonton (10:30am)
Saturday, July 6 - Strathcona Library, Edmonton (10:30am)


Upcoming Wrestling
Saturday, June 15 - Revolution Pro Wrestling - Lorelei Beaumaris Community Hall - Edmonton

Writing
The Compassionate Degenerate's Hungry Ghost Cafe

Dan's writing on Dating and relationships can be found at thegatewayboyfriend.blogspot.com

Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Dear Nephew



Dear Nephew,

Right now Im watching two of the people in my life I admire most--Slammer and the Middle-Aged Madman Vince Austin--exchange punches to the head while standing on top of a badly-dented aluminum ladder.

A lot of people dont get this.

I dont expect your mother to let me introduce you to professional wrestling for a while (the couch game notwithstanding). At twenty-one months, youre probably too young and besides, knowing you the way I do, youd probably be more fascinated by the shiny silver ladder than the two men risking life and limb on top of it.

But when youre old enough, I hope to take you to your first wrestling show. You probably wont get it then either, but youll still be a kid and whether or not you get things is for adults to worry about. I just hope you have a good time cheering for the wrestler with the coolest mask. Ill even buy you his picture. Hell sign it for you if you ask nicely.

If youre old enough to read this letter, you might ask yourself: Its pro wrestling. Whats to get?

Well. Ill let you in on a secret. Pro wrestling is a lot like life. There is more to it than the things you think you see. The deeper you look, the more lessons youll learn.

Well start with this one: Your worst enemy is your best friend.

Wrestlings most memorable moments are based on rivalries: Hogan vs. Andre. Steamboat vs. Flair. Raven vs. Dreamer.  DOA vs. Los Boriquas. Tonight its Slammer vs. Vince Austin. A wrestler is only as good as his opponents. The people that threaten his safety, push him to his limits, and thwart him at every turn also make him the most money, secure his legacy, and make him the best he can be.

Mankind couldnt be Mankind without an Undertaker to throw him off the top of a steel cage. Steve Austin needed first Jake Roberts, then Bret Hart, and finally Vince MacMahon before he crossed the threshold from wrestler to household name.

This applies to life too.

Now your enemies wont look like pro wrestling enemies. It is highly unlikely--though not impossible, I suppose--that an Elvis impersonator will smash a guitar over your head. But youll face your share of adversity. Sometimes it will be in the forms of specific people. Other times adversity will come in the form of social pressure to either turn away from or embrace a way of life that you know in your heart is for you. Sometimes it will even come from inside you in the form of self-doubts, fears, and anger. Those are the really sneaky ones, and well talk at length about them later.

Youll react to your enemies in different ways over the years. Some days youll fight. Some days youll run. Some days youll learn that there are more options than just fighting and running and those will bring you to new places. And other times--and Im sad to say this--your enemies will beat you.

Believe it or not, none of that matters in the long run. Life is also like wrestling in that winning and losing matters, but not as much as you might think and certainly not  for the reasons you might think. Results can be chapters in a greater story but they arent the story. Thats for you to write.

Your enemies will be ruthless. Theyll hit you at your lowest point in your weakest spots. Theyll run from you when youre strong and then sneak attack you when you least expect it. Theyll cheat and play games with your mind.

You enemies will show you who you really are. They will show you where you need to grow. And in facing them down, youll see where youre already strong and youll discover reserves in yourself you didnt know existed.

Theyll give you your most memorable stories. Theyll be the fuel for your most improbable victories. If you let them, theyll help you reach new heights, whether its the top of the world or the top of an unsteady, aluminum ladder in a three-quarters full community hall.

You can like them or not like them, but learn to love them. In their own way, theyre going to be behind your greatest moments.
 
Upcoming Comedy
Wednesday, May 15 - The Comic Strip, Edmonton
Thursday, May 16- The Comic Strip, EdmontonFriday, May 17 - The Comic Strip, EdmontoSaturday, May 18 - The Comic Strip, Edmonton

Sunday, May 19 - The Comic Strip, Edmonton



 Upcoming Meditation Instruction (see website for details)
 Sunday, May 12 - Strathcona Library, Edmonton (2:00 pm)


Sunday, June 2- Strathcona Library, Edmonton (2:00 pm)Saturday, June 22 - Strathcona Library, Edmonton (10:30am)
Saturday, July 6 - Strathcona Library, Edmonton (10:30am)


Upcoming Wrestling
Friday,  May 10 - Revolution Pro Wrestling - Lorelei Beaumaris Community Hall - Edmonton

Writing
The Compassionate Degenerate's Hungry Ghost Cafe

Dan's writing on Dating and relationships can be found at thegatewayboyfriend.blogspot.com

Check out this link for information on how to get Dan's Dating for Shy Guys ebook