(1) Stuffing - is stupid. If you don't have to have stuffing, don't bother. It's dead bread. Stovetop stuffing is even stupider. It tastes nasty - like cardboard - and it only tastes eatable if you put a lot of gravy on it. Please don't bother.
(2) Squash - when is the last time you had squash? Yes, the Pilgrims ate squash probably, but they didn't like squash. They ate it because it was all they had at the time. Some really skinny, wild turkey and squash. We now have potatoes, lots of different types of potatoes - Thank you South America for your potatoes. For tradition sake, get a squash and use it as a center piece, but do not cook it. If you do cook it and serve it to your guests, be sure you have flushable baby wipes in the bathroom.
(3) Cranberry Sauce - do not make your own homemade cranberry sauce. Cranberry sauce is now available in the can, and it tastes really good. The home made stuff you make tastes nasty and bitter. Let the professionals make the cranberry sauce.
(4) Potatoes - make lots of potatoes. Make Sweet potatoes, make yams - if you make both, put a marshmallow on top of one so you can tell the difference, otherwise you will forget which one is which. Make mashed potatoes, make potatoes with cheese on them or baked potatoes. People like all potatoes, and make lots. Left over potatoes last and taste just as good as the first time around. Powdered potatoes ARE potatoes, and don't let people lie to you and tell you they are not. Make extra gravy for the white potatoes.
(5) Turkey - Turkey is good. Keep that tradition. Make one or buy one or steal one. All turkeys are good and they taste good frozen, fresh, cooked then frozen. Make two turkeys and share the fucking turkey with your guests. Let them take home some turkey goodness.
(6) Pumpkin Pie - If you don't have pumpkin pie, don't bother having Thanksgiving. Some people think Thanksgiving is about family, about being thankful for a good harvest, or about eating turkey. These are all urban myths. Lies told to you by people trying to sell their turkeys and religions and family values to you. Thanksgiving is about Pumpkin Pie. Don't forget the whipped cream. The stuff in the can is the best. The stuff in the tub isn't cream, it's a whipped topping. Probably made from the center of Oreo Cookies or something. Just buy the cans. If you have extra whipped cream, you can do whip cream shots at night when no one sees you put the can in your mouth and shoot it.
(7) Fruit Cake. Give everyone a fruit cake. Make sure it is in a pretty tin that is non-denominational and not holiday specific. They can use it at the naughty Santa Give-away. They may laugh at you now, but they will thank you at X-mas when they need a gift for the company holiday gift exchange.
last of all - I will remind you again: don't forget the flushable baby wipes in the bathroom. You'll thank me on Friday.
I had coffee with a friend this evening. She wants a man to support her. She wants two homes - one in the city, one on the beach where her family can gather for holidays. she wants money so she can travel and she wants to be around people who dress well.
I have other ambitions. I'm 55 years old and have no intentions of spending the best part of my life working my ass off so I can worry about paying taxes.
I love the mountains with trees and babbling rivers. I want to play in a wood shop, do stained glass, bend and sculpt metal, do ceramics. I get so much satisfaction when I build nice things with my hands.
I want to go to the theater and watch comedians, jugglers, magicians, puppeteers. I want to watch and write a One-man show and watch Broadway shows. I want to eat sushi, make sushi and drink Scotch every night. I travel a lot for my current work and will be in Billings, MT; Iowa; Bismarck, ND;, Salt lake City, UT; L.A., CA; Las Vegas, NV - I bet I am forgetting a few more places - I will be in all these places between now and January 9th.
Last year I collected coffee mugs in every state and province I worked in - not visited, mind you, but actually worked in and I had 20 of them.
This year I drove X-country and back, Drove to North Dakota and Back, Drobe to Montana - then Idaho and back. I went to England and attended the Glastonbury Festival and I spent eight days at Burning Man.
I have a very good bed and warm blankets and I live in a home where the refrigerator is full. My car is a great, fully loaded, full-sized, SUV and runs great, too.
I don't live in the mountains, in a forest, near a creek but that is because I have not found a mountain with a forrest and a creek as close to an International airport, and I do currently work - but I love what I do. I also love having access to so much theater and 'like minded people.'
Let me regress for a moment. My friends are dying around me and my friends are losing their family members to cancer or unknown causes in some cases. This year a friend of mine lost his daughter when her husband shot and killed her and her girlfriend in a domestic argument. My friend is now raising his three grand children in Western Montana. Another friend was disabled for months with a bad pancreas. Another friend was hit by a truck last year. She is recovering bravely after she was given a 5% chance of survival.
I know many people with addictions. I lost a fairly close friend recently to alcohol. He was only 53 years old. We can say he died from obesity and sleep apnea - but it was the alcohol. I have known my share of addicts: drugs, shopping, Jesus, food, sex, porn, gambling, video gaming - but I have come to the deduction the two biggest addictions are POWER (why else would Donald Trump try to be president?) and MONEY.
It reminds me of a story:
A banker is on vacation in a small coastal village. He goes to the pier to go fishing and small boat with a fisherman docks. Inside the small boat are several large tuna. The banker complimented the fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The fisherman replied, “only a little while." The banker then asked, "why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?" The fisherman said he had enough to support his family’s needs. His family eats one fish and he sells the others. The Banker then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my friends. I have a full and busy life.”
The banker scoffed, “I have an MBA. I could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to the City and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the Banker replied, “15–20 years.”
“But what then?” Asked the fisherman.
The Banker laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich!”
“What then?” Asked the fisherman.
The banker said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your friends.”
I was 12 years old when we moved to the Catskill Mountains in New York State. From the age of 12, until I left New York at age 17 and moved to San Mateo, California, my father and I lived as roommates. There was a co-existence that we shared for all my teen years rather than a father/son relationship. We played board games together and my father was one of my best friends. I was not very focusing on school. I did not study or do my homework so my father had the idea that if I moved in with my older and wiser sister, Robin in California, perhaps I'd finish high school. My sister agreed, and I was on a plane flying to California ten days later.
Thrust into a new existence in California, I found my world was very different very quickly. I went from being a pothead, trailer park resident in the mountains surrounded by endless forests and streams and my world had been up till now been working in Catskill hotels doing just about everything one could imagine, to now suddenly living in a major metropolitan area where I knew no one. I went from a high school of less than 1000 students to a high school with over 3,000 students. I left a place where I took a bus to school 20 miles each way where I stood in the wind and snow each morning to arriving in a tropical land where I could walk to school, there was mass transit and a much more diverse school with drama classes, wood and metal shops, apparently gay teachers and a security guard walking the halls.
California was exciting and dynamic and so expanding. I had never before found myself drinking champaign on New Years Eve in a sunk-in living room in Hillsborough, or taking bay cruises and hanging out with friends who had cars their parents leased for them and credit cards their parents gave them. It was a whole new world I had never experienced before.
His hands were so cramped up, they were not in a natural state. He wasn't old or handicapped. He was British, that was his only handicap. It was over developed muscles and an ability to hold things in his palms so no one knew they were there - he was respected as one of the greatest manipulators of his generation, and when videos were first bring produced, his was the very first one made before anyone less.
Derrick Dingle was his name. When I met him he was already a legend in his early 30's. He lectured and performed for magicians all over the world, showing them tricks of the trade, his creations, his routines and skills that few would ever take the time to learn.
It wasn't simply his skill at one or two methods, but his skill with so many different types of items including cards, coins, silks, ropes, cigarettes, matches, lighters, and gimmick things one doesn't always see. He was a force.
I had met many of the top magicians of this generation. Privileged to see them, hang out with them, be invite to meals with them. My father was one of them, revered as a great mind and creator of many things they all performed regularly and the pioneer of many tricks that still live on today as the great classics of magic and balloon art. We would be invited to hospitality rooms at all the magic conventions and my father would do for them and others would do for my father.
I remember my father would tell a story of how once a woman was impressed by the muscle of my father's right thumb, over developed from finger-flicking for so many years. I saw my father's hands every day, and they didn't appear to be over developed in any way - not like a body builder or weight lifter is BIG in the arms and shoulders and chest. However, this image of muscles in the hands was always in my mind after hearing the story so many times. when I met Derrick Dingle and i was the volunteer who touched his hands to see if there was anything hidden in his palm down hands. I felt nothing there. he then proceeded to do magic on a skill level I had never witnessed that close before.
It is Febraury 1st and my Grad Night and Post Prom season is shaping up to be as good as any other year. I currently have 22 shows booked and confirmed and another 20 tentatives. States I will be performing in or I have other hypnotists covering shows for me that I can't do include North Dakota, Iowa, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Mississippi, New York, California, Texas, Florida and Washington.
Other than the High School Shows, I have shows for county fairs, fundraisers, corporate parties, colleges and club events also booked in North Carolina, Saskatchewan Canada and Idaho. I am already working in the same number of states and provinces as I did last year.
My busy season for high school late night, safe and sober parties begins the End of March and goes through the middle of June for High School events. Last year I even had one the end of June. I do a few other misc. shows for schools throughout the year. Last year I did 29 of my 32 high school shows all within this time period. In July I begin my fair season and that goes through October.
I remember playing dress-up with silly, goofy clothes. All kinds of crazy clothes we collected. Halloween costumes, holiday costumes and donated clothes we got from the Red Cross when they had to many donated to them after a disaster your grandparents worked on.
I remember pulling my little girl around my empty 600 sq. ft. office building living room carpet on a blanket, in a sleeping bag and in a box with a rope.
I remember pushing Jecca on the swings for hours, spinning her on tire swings for hours, pushing her in a stroller to every park within walking distance of our home and carrying her on my shoulders for as long as my shoulders could bare her weight, and as long as I could until she was to old.
I remember when Jecca was three, we were playing birthday party with all her stuffed animals on the floor. Jecca would give them names and I'd give them all a different voice. I remember when the light went on in my head and I realized, there was nothing I wanted to do more in the world than sit on that floor with my little princess and play with her. All work could wait. And when she got older, and my time to play with her was after school, I remember I no longer wanted to be a talent agent any more because it would distract me from being there with her at 3:00 PM each day. I had only one priority, my little girl.
I moved from California to Mississippi to be with her, forfeiting money and success to be with my daughter. I did it for her, but I also knew I was doing it for me. I was a type A workaholic in my early 30's and when I was with her, I could be homeless and it didn't matter to me.
I have lost my dream. Not that I had one to loss, you see. It is more like I feel like I have Alzheimer's. I am not sure what the dream was. Can you loss something if you are not sure what it was? If I loss my keys, I know "I had keys and now they are gone." At the moment, I am not sure if I have a dream? Maybe I need more coffee, then I'll remember what I was planning on dreaming of doing. I have a list of "stuff" to do, but none are dreams.
I have a personal assistant. I have not had a personal assistant for many years, but recently a good friend of mine, in the same business as me, began using a part-time personal assistant and the young lady has a business degree so I decided, I too needed her to come and work for me. Let me share here, I did not ask to see her business administration degree she achieved after attending a four-year college, but I must assume she has one because she told me she does.
Her name is Yegenya Chityan and she was born in Eastern Europe
I have been wanting to hire an assistant for 20 years, so it must have been kismet when I got a call from my good friend and fellow performer, Paul Nathan, a few weeks ago.
"Alan, I've got this girl you need to meet. She is working part time for Frank Olivier right now, and she's looking for more hours. She's got an MBA and she's way smarter than she seems."
I invited Yevgenya to a Grad Night show and she worked the video camera for me. After talking a while I learned that she is not only smart and organized, but I felt confident she could do what I need with my business - something I have not had around for a long time. I knew we'd get along famously.
Yevgenya has been assisting Frank Olivier, a brilliant comedy juggler since last year. She recently spent a month with Frank and Paul in Seattle as the box office manager and volunteer coordinator for their show, Twisted Cabaret.
Now, Yevgenya will be assisting me with my latest endeavors as well, keeping me organized and focused, and productive! You will meet her at the IAFE and WFA conventions and meet her on the phone and internet.
In case you're wondering about her name, Yevgenya is Ukrainian-born, but spent most of her life in Providence, RI. She's as American as M&Ms. Lucky for myself, Frank and Paul, she decided to move to the San Francisco Bay Area to pursue her dream of providing administrative assistance to 3 middle-aged variety artists. I hope the day never comes when the 3 of us need to fight over whose files she gets to organize first.