Alan Sands Entertainment

 

   

What a year! 2020 is behind me, and I have to say - it was not as bad as it could have been. I have many reasons why, but let me begin with the beginning of the year… Beginning in October 2019 through January 2020, Lisa and I did five fair conventions (Western Fairs Assoc., Colorado, Arizona, Washington, Oregon) and we had a bumper year of shows lining up for us. It was exciting to see so many gigs on the calendar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa and I started the year out doing really exciting events.

I did a solo show Jan. 10th in North Platte, NE for the Railroad Engineers Association.

North Platte has always been a town that has come through for me in the past. I used to think of it negatively - but then came to realize it was an oasis that was there for me with solutions.

Story #1: I was driving cross-country towing a trailer filled with inflatable games and the trailer was disintegrating behind me along the highway. The siding was peeling away. The ribs were showing as I finally got to N. Platte where I bought a new trailer and abandoned the old one.  I just sold that replacement trailer last month.

Story #2:  I purchased a used RV in Mississippi from a shady RV Dealership. The thing said it had 44,000 miles on it, but it was trouble from the moment we drove it off the lot. I spent $600 on repairs getting to Montana to do a fair. We made it there - did the fair and on the way home again the engine finally gave out in N. Platte. There were no U-Hauls or cars to rent in the town, but the dealership sold us an old Ford Station Wagon for $2,000 so we bought the car, filled it with all our belongings and made it home.

Returning to N. Platte in January and having a good show and no drama, was nice.

January 31st, Lisa and I did a show for AFLAC in San Jose, and it was a 5-star party, and the show went great.

The first week of February we did a show for a private Silicon Valley high school I never knew existed - another great show!

Immediately afterwards, we fly to Texas and we performed another great show in Houston for a gathering of Physicians where we had some real Texas BBQ.

In February, we went to Anchorage, Alaska and performed three shows - two at a local bar/saloon that, Thom Kyte, a past student of mine helped me arrange. We also did a great show for an AA convention called, "the All Alaska Round Up.". This was perhaps one of the best shows we have ever done. While we were there, a Native Alaskan shared with us reindeer meat, whale meat and other exotic meats his family can harvest - but non-native people cannot hunt legally.

 

Bowhead Whale Meat

 

Reindeer Meat (caribou)

 

 

Endless, breathtaking, Alaska scenery

 

 

these three pictures of scenery were taken

 

  

standing in the same spot

 

 

We returned home and then both attended Jeff McBride's School in Las Vegas. Lisa took a one-day class on Tarot, something she has been interested in forever; I took a six-day class on magic. It was great! Even an old dog can learn new tricks and I really did gain so much.

We went wine tasting in Escondido with George and Deb James in early March right before we flew off to our next gig in Canada.

Our next gig was in Banff, Canada for 250 employees of Alberta's Waste Water Department, We arrived early to enjoy the scenery - had dinner with two fair family friends Paul and Connie Isaac and as we are getting ready to go do our show we get a call in the room - POW - our show got cancelled! They paid us, and we left the next day. Lisa flew to my home in the SF Bay Area and I flew to North Dakota and did two more shows that weekend before the gig-famine hit.

Over the next few weeks we watched $73,000 worth of scheduled engagements cancel. Fairs, high schools, corporate events … all of them … POOF!

   I was hankering to go camping, so I made a reservation at the Big Basin Redwoods State Park near Santa Cruz for one night. It is California's oldest state park and the trees are mazing - they have educational trails and an outdoor theater with carved redwood log benches they built in the 30's. Lisa and I went down and went camping, hiked and and ... a few months later, the park and all theater, and benches, and educational trails were destroyed when the park had it's worst fire ever. Everywhere we hiked was scorched and destroyed.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the next few months, we did two house parties locally --- Lisa figured out how to entertain herself doing crafts - Amongst her many projects, she repainted my sister's swimming lady we keep in the back yard.

 

I began making sawdust, building things out of wood and doing little repairs I had been putting off. I have become an expert at building stereo cabinets, night stands and end tables of different types.

An oak TV Stand made for Judie Fatland & Jason Rariden.

 

A piece made for my office.

 

 A more artsy book case I built out of walnut. 15 glue-up panels.  I have since put urethane on it and I am adding steampunk embellishments.

 A charcuterie board made as a holiday present

 

 

This piece is really big! Made to fit games including Scrabble. This was also made from solid walnut and about nine large glue-up panels. Made for my sister Robin.

 

 Jewelry boxes - these were a challenge. I made two of them, but have not perfected the craft.

I made one for my daughter, Jessica and one for Lisa.

 

 

Lisa also taught hypnosis to a very wealthy gentleman in San Francisco. He wanted one-on-one lessons, and Lisa taught her entire one week program in four hours to the guy.


 

 Jessica, my daughter, was moving from one apartment to another in the Seattle area in July, so I took a trip and helped her with my giant van I bought last summer, 2019. It was great to see her. I am sure, if you are a parent, you understand. She requested two bookcase style end tables and I made her those for her new apartment.

Heading home from Jessica's home in Seattle, I visited Lassen Volcano National Park and camped for a few nights in the Lassen Forest. I am glad I went as it burned very badly shortly after that.

 

What really saved our sanity was a two day fair in Montana the first week of August that did not cancel. It was their 100th anniversary - the town has 480 people and they were going to have that fair! Lisa and I drove there, did multiple shows with one of our star stage hypnosis students, Frank Prince.

Afterwards, Lisa flew to Las Vegas to attend HypnoThoughts Live, a convention that usually has 1,000 attendees - but this year, only 200 showed up. Lisa has been going since it began, and she didn't want to miss it.

 

I forgot to mention, on the way to Montana we are towing this 20' trailer behind us with our model t inside and we decide to camp one night near Casper, Wyoming. We find a campsite using our technologies in the car and head to the campground ... long story short, it is on top of a mountain thousands of feet in the air and we towed the trailer up this switchback mountain to this really nice, secluded place one can imagine called . Coming home was far less dramatic and a lot easier on the engine - but a bit more vicious to the brakes - of the van.

Back to the timeline ...

I visited one of my best friends of 25 years at her home in Montana, Jeanne Thomas. I stayed with her for a week helping her on her 2.5 acres. We did gardening and simple household repairs, and drank a lot of wine and made dinner every night together. The big thing I did for her is she has an A-Frame house and glass windows that are really high. I stood on the top of a ladder and clean those windows for her. It was not something she could do herself and I was glad we did it, but I don't think I will do it again. … Meanwhile, another longtime friend, Alison Kenyon, showed up at Jeanne's with her brilliant 8-year old son. They were on a camping trek, visiting all the dinosaur museums throughout the region. It was great connecting with all of them again.

Leaving Jeanne and going to Idaho, I visited another performer friend; Juggler / Acrobat Sven Jorgenson, He is building his own home on land he purchased near the Grand Tetons. It gets down to -20 degrees where he is at, and he has to build walls that have a thermal barrier - it was interesting to see the double wall construction with a thermal gap between the walls so the cold does not carry through the solid structure. It was really beautiful there - his land is on a creek and in the woods with old-growth trees. He can't put in a septic because the water table is to high, so he has to build an above ground septic system and he is building everything as green as he can. I only stayed for three days because he has no bathroom. As I get older, I need a bathroom... But I did love camping there for two nights (maybe three, I forget).

My next stop was Ogden UT where I hung out with my very good friend, James Dayley. Lisa and I met James at HypnoThoughts in Las Vegas. He is another regular there. He and his wife, Penny, have a huge 5-bedroom house and they welcome us every time Lisa and I are driving through - which for the past few years has been quite often - his home has become a destination, really. Penny's family also have a cabin in a remote area of Utah and they have 4-wheelers they keep there to ride around on. James took me to the cabin and we stayed there for about three nights. We saw moose, deer, flocks of grouse, and beaver to name a few of the wild animals. The Internet was really bad. We had to ride the 4-wheelers 5 miles up the mountain to get reception. I cut the trip short because I had some work I felt I needed to do, so I left and headed home a lot earlier than I had originally planned... with nothing left on the books ... there was no reason to go home ... but my sister was telling me my mail was piling up ... and hopes of Covid ending ... well, home I went.

I got home and I get a call from one of my Burning Man Campmates, Bill Crayton. He invited Lisa and me to spend ten days at his family lake house in North Carolina with him and another camp mate, Jennifer Erickson.  Lisa and I did not go to The Glastonbury Festival in England this year and we had the Frequent Flyer Miles, so saying no … well, let's say it simply was not possible.

Little note here. Do not criticize my haircut in this picture. I decided to cut my own hair... with a trimmer ... and I created a bald spot and Lisa did her best to fry and fix the errors of my ways. Cutting my own hair is not one of my super powers ... apparently ...

  

 

September in North Carolina was really awesome. All we had to do was buy food. I think the whole trip cost about $500 when we were all done, and that was because we bought a lot of alcohol! The last day at the lake house, right before we left to head to the timeshare on Myrtle Beach, we took a walk down to the lake. A storm the night before had broken some tree branches and they were in the road. I was being a good guest and began moving them out of the road when Bill says, "I think those are Poison Oak!" That made for a few itchy days.

To top off the ten days at the lake house, Bill also gifted us seven days at his Myrtle Beach Timeshare. One of the highlights of the week on the beach was finding these tiny starfish - dozens of them under the pier.

Aside from those two adventures, I have not had a chance to do in the past and it was so much fun making sawdust. 

 

   

I also had time to customize the inside of my van.

I put in insulation and covered most of the walls and did it all in walnut or walnut stained plywood, built a large cabinet for the van, and made a sliding drawer 5' long and 4' wide under the bed so I don't have to climb under the bed to get things out.  It's all attached to 500 lb. drawer slides and works really well.

I am checking my FaceBook one day in October or November and a performer friend posts he has a bunch of steam punk crafting materials he has collected over 10 years and he is moving out of his warehouse. He asks if anyone wants it? I replied first. I tell him yes, and then I supply him packaging slips for FedEx ground. The next thing I know, I receive 5 boxes weighing over 250 lbs. total of "stuff." I can't begin to tell you what all is in here, but it is an amazing collection. It will take me years to use most of it.
Lisa's house in San Diego was not built with insulation and has single pane windows - her two boys decided it was time to repair/insulate one of the walls in the house. It is a big project tearing out the plaster; ripping up all the carpet in the living room. She wanted it done, but not exactly at this moment. To make a long story short, I went down there, helped finish the demolition, helped insulate the wall, replaced the wall with sheet rock, tape and mudded the walls, painted. She still doesn't have carpet replaced, but we acquired a large rug and it is doing a great job at the moment covering enough of the floor that she has a living room back. She also bought double pane windows and I helped a local contractor/friend of Lisa's install them.

Another friend, Fred Anderson, in SF, CA has a studio apartment and I helped him do some remodeling he needed to do - but only one days worth. I would probably have helped him more, but my van is huge and parking at his place is almost impossible. All is good, when doing those types of projects, help is help, ya know? I also was able to loan him some tools he needed to keep going.

I have a sister I barely remember. She was from one of my father's marriages when I was in pre-school. The marriage didn't last very long and produced one sister. Well, she passed away from Covid. I can now say the #TrumpVirus took one of my sisters. Two of my nieces were asking about our family tree and when I was reading the records I was sharing with them, the essay written by a relative 35 years ago shared that my great grand-mother died in the flu pandemic of 1918. These pandemics can hit home. They have struck my family, it appears.

And, life rolls on. The holidays were uneventful. The next excitement will be Georgia's Senate Election this week, and I am hoping with all my heart the nation can open up again safely as soon as possible.

I wish you all health, prosperity and hope we get to see each other again soon. If you are receiving this email, it is because I consider you someone I care about.

Love,

 

Alan & Lisa

 

2019 Dates not available:

 

Blog Post 04/23/17

Today Is Paul Reaser’s Birthday. Paul was my closest friend for many, many years. In high school. Paul and I were roommates for a few years and he helped me develop my OlymPicnic Games package (http://alansands.com/olympicnic/) when we were in our late 20’s. He helped me run these games packages for years and years at hundreds of company picnics. Paul lives in Flagstaff, AZ now. I do not see him very often, and he is not on Facebook so we do not chat to often, but he is still one of my closest and best memories of my senior high year at San Mateo HS. Happy Birthday Paul.

 

I had the opportunity to do the fair in Flagstaff this year, but I turned it down because it is the same weekend as Burning Man and I want to go to Burning Man, and the fair wouldn’t meet my price. My only regret was I would have seen Paul and said hello to him and his mom, Helen. One of the reasons I do things like, “go to Burning man” and experience life to its fullest is Paul’s little brother, Frank died recently. He was one of so many friends who I lost or came really close to losing recently and so many of them were so young. Xondra Merrill, Frank Reaser, Dudley, Elysa Hayes having her accident that brought her so close to leaving us, the most recent was Kevin Ridgeway also had a life threatening car accident. I have just learned that Johnny Fox is now fighting liver cancer and he says, "the doctors have thrown in the towel"… So, I no longer chase the mighty dollar. I choose to live life now because one does not know what tomorrow will bring.

 

Unrelated pet peeve: My trailer storage rent is due today, too. I pay $87.50 a month per spaced for two parking spaces so I can park my trailers filled with ‘stuff’ like Mistee, my Model T, and my wood working trailer, and I have one trailer delegated to camping equipment. How ridiculous is it that I spend this much on parking spaces? It gets my goat. Well, it would get my goat if I had a goat, but you get the point. it does bug me to pay for a parking space.

 

Back to the day: I am in Custer, SD. Home of the Crazy Horse Monument. I saw the monument about 5 or 6 years ago, so I don't think I will go again. Instead I will opt to go have a late lunch with Michael DeSchalit in Rapid City where we both fly out of today. Seeing friends is so much more important.

 

I did a great show last night for a bunch of post prom students. I only invite the seniors on stage for these post prom events because they will not have another chance to volunteer next year, if they bring me or another hypnotist back. 11 out of 12 stayed under the whole show. It was a good show. Great, ultra polite kids. Kids in the midwest have amazing manors as a general rule compared to the entitled and gangsta kids on the coasts.

 

The hotel I am in is great. The Comfort Inn in Custer. This hotel closes for 6 months out of the year, for the winter, and just reopened three days ago. The place is in impeccable condition and they donated a room for me to stay in for the night while I am here doing the post prom party. I deal with a small dilemma when I stay in a hotel room that is donated. I am one who takes the shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, coffee packets I do not use in the room, I have stolen a towel or ten I will admit, and I take the pad and pen. But when the room is donated, I feel like I can’t take anything, and it tears at me being a hotel kleptomaniac.

 

One year when I was touring, instead of writing down all the states I performed in, I bought a coffee cup in each state. I gathered 21 coffee cups that year, which we still use today, and every day at my sister’s house. It was not a wise investment. I probably paid $9-$14 per cut - so it easily cost me $210+ to buy all those cups. Not a good investment, but I do like some of those cups a lot with my morning coffee. What is the value of something you enjoy?

 

So, back to the room and the free merchandise that is all around the room … I guess I will just take the pen. I need some way of recording I was here other than a mark in my check book that shows I deposited a check.

 

 

Happy trails.

Tales from the Trails - August 2nd, 2016

Last night I slept in the back seat of my truck. Yes, at 56 years old (my birthday is in two days), I still sleep in my vehicle on occasion. It is actually one of the criteria I check when buying a vehicle. Can I lay down in the back seat and not be in a fetal position? I don’t have to sleep in my truck, after all - we fair performers are independently wealthy since we make the big bucks (insert sarcastic LOL), but all hotels surrounding Yellowstone NP run about $250 a night for a Super 8 in August and I think everyone but “The Donald” would whine a bit about paying those prices. I am not on vacation and I have no one to impress, I am alone - and truthfully, I found a campsite along a river in the woods where it was just me and the moths. I was in paradise and I slept well. Fortunately, I am 5’7” and my truck is 5’6” wide inside. I have a 2” piece of foam I put inside a $20 sleeping bag as a futon and I have one of those sleeping bags that is thicker than any blanket I have ever owned. It’s difficult to roll up at times. You have to use clips to hold it folded in half before you roll it and it is huge once it is rolled up!  I also bring a firm pillow so I don’t feel the arm rest under my head. I’m a guy - sleeping alone along the road is OK every other night and I feel safe and the world is my urinal. Alan Bruess brings his kitchen with him everywhere. I bring my bedrolls, and I have a kitchen, too but I will leave that for another time.

I have driven through Yellowstone National Park every year at least once for the last 28 years. The first year was the year Yellowstone burned, 1988, but I move ahead for a moment. One year I spent six days in the park. I flew a girlfriend into Jackson Hole. We stayed in a hotel in Jackson Hole when she arrived. I then reserved rooms with the help of someone in the park at one of the reservations desks. If you called on the phone they would have said, “Sold Out” but at the desk, we found rooms throughout the park, spaced out evenly, driving every road, ending up back to Jackson Hole where we stayed again in the same hotel the last night before I flew her home. It was the only time my Tundra got 18 MPG because the speed limit in the park is 45 MPH.

My first year on the road was 1987. Wow, OK - 29 years … I joined RMAF the fall of 1987. It was one of the first associations I joined after joining the IAFE and WFA the previous year. I joined RMAF because my office partner, Fred Anderson said, “I want to see the Teton Mountains,” and so now, half my life has been visiting these national parks and the surrounding states.


 Fred was my office partner. We did our marketing together. We were both San Francisco street performers and we knew that fairs were the logical market to go into from the streets since you were working outdoors, fighting the elements and you had to gather a crowd and do a show. The only difference was on the streets you had to ask the audience for money at the end of the show. At fairs, you had a guarantee. Back in the late 1980’s Fred and I would work together getting work for the summer fair season. Fred would make the phone calls. I would type out cover letters (without a spell check - I am sure my letters were horrible!). We would stuff two VHS videos into an envelope and for $2.00 we could mail them out together - same price, up to two lbs., one or two tapes. 

In 1987, Fred and I were about the only two variety acts working the RMAF Convention along with Gibb Richards the clown. Gib was well established there already. Gib was a math teacher at a University in Albuquerque and he spent his summers working for fairs, charging just enough to break even and vacationing in the region. There was one other act. Triangle Talent was handling a balloon sculptor that did HUGE balloons of a Motorcycle - the acts last name was Hamilton I think. Dave Hamilton rings a bell, but don’t quote me on that. He was good. He wore a white suit with a red shirt and red shoes. He looked sharp! I wonder how many of those suits he had. They certainly did not stay clean, I am sure. The four of us were the entire convention entertainment line-up of variety acts. There were musical acts, of course. Almost as many musical acts then as there are hypnotists now! Things have changed, though. Now there are over 100 variety and grounds acts I believe in the Rockies region, but competition is good I feel, too.

So, what is my point? Why am I sharing all this? Well, this all comes to mind because yesterday, Fred Anderson sent me a text message asking if I could videotape him at a show he was doing locally in the SF Bay Area.  I began thinking about those first tours through the region. Fred was a Juggler and I did magic and balloons. We sold ourselves as a two act package. Fred never drove a car, so he didn’t mind making less to have a personal chauffeur drive him everywhere. Fred had a great showcase but was shy. I’d do the pitch in the room. This is one of the benefits of being a sidewalk balloon clown for so many years.

Back then, the small fairs would help route the acts. They would co-op buy together and run you along Reed William’s carnival route from town to town. We’d get five fairs in a row, two to five days each. We needed to make $2,500 each a week back them to stay on the road and come home with enough money to buy chicken. 

The first two years, Fred and I toured a lot together. One of our “Seymour” Moments was when: we went to the Big Horn Mountains and rented a log cabin for a night between fairs. The place had a small diner on the property and as we sat there eating, we looked out the huge picture window onto a small pond maybe 50-100 feet diameter and in the middle of the pond stood a moose, just standing there, throughout our entire meal. He might still be there now, for all I know.

I have since learned that moose are aquatic animals. They give birth standing in H20 and you do not see them in zoos because they need to roam free. They simply do not make it in any type of captivity. Zero - nil. I love learning animal trivia.

I also remember one year I did the Big Horn County Fair in Basin, WY. I was only doing comedy magic. I was working on a flatbed tractor trailer truck bed doing my shows. I packed up my act into my magic box/table and left it sitting on the stage. I went to the office to collect my allowance so I could go home and buy chicken, I then got in my car and drove 100 miles over the mountain to Sheridan and I went to the movies. When I got out of the movie it was dark. I looked in the back of my minivan and realized something was missing. I forgot to put my act! It was not in the car with me!  I drove back over the mountain and found it sitting in the middle of the flatbed right where I had left it.

I am on my way back to Basin, WY and the Big Horn County Fair right now. I will perform for two days, then I drive to a private party I am producing the entertainment for in Montana.

I was vegetarian back in the 80’s and it was really difficult to find veggies in Montana and Wyoming then. The Rockies were a meat and potatoes world. There were no salads at fast-food places. I found I was eating french fries as my only meal. I had to give up my veggie lifestyle to remain in this business. Things were different back then.

Being on the road as a tailgate entertainer is a lifestyle. I am sure people not in the business would say “You slept in your truck?” and I would have to reply, “What? And give up showbiz?”

 

 A Tale from the Trail

 I performed at the Canyon County Fair (and Festival) in Caldwell, ID for seven years. It is a 50K attendance fair about 30 miles from Boise, Idaho. To get to Boise from the San Francisco Bay Area, you take I-80 east, through Reno and turn left in Winnemucca. You drive a few hundred miles through the sagebrush, cross a corner of Oregon and into Idaho. It’s a 12 hour drive, and when I have time, I’ll give myself an extra day, Stay in Winnemucca in the Winners Casino and not shotgun the trip. I like the Winners because it has a motor lodge, you get a free drink (to get you into the smoke filled casino) and the Wells Fargo Bank is across the street. Small reasons, I know - but enough.

On this particular journey, I had recently bought a new Dodge Caravan. My old one lost the transmission at 125K - or perhaps it was the one I back ended another minivan with and did $5,000 worth of damage to mine and almost zero to them because they had an iron tailgate (on a mini van! Who would have thought?). Regardless of the demise of the previous Dodge MiniVan, I was in a new one and before abandoning the old one I removed the full-sized spare from under the trade-in and replaced the toy spare under the new vehicle with the full sized spare.

I had taken this road many times and I always notice the small “attractions” signs as I travel. Like all of us, we love to get out of the vehicle and stretch our legs. Along this particular road, there is not much to admire very long, but I always saw a small sign every time I traveled this road that was in the middle of nowhere. I just tried to find the mane of this attraction to share, and it is so insignificant, I can’t even find a reference to it on the internet after searching for the name for a good half hour. Let me describe it to you: The small sign referenced volcanos, lava formations, fissures - it was a small sign and probably 99.9% of people driving by ignore it, I am sure. On this trip, I decided, “I have an extra day - let’s go look!”

I turned right. One half mile up the dirt road another sign tells me my destination is 23.5 miles ahead. I decide, I am on the adventure, I have the day off and am early - go forth and explore!

At 21 miles into the wilderness, having passed nothing resembling any form of civilization, the road starts to get a bit rough. Not ruts and dirt clods rough, I am talking Lava rocks jutting up 4-6 inches rough. Sure enough, about 1/2 mile from the lava formations and 23-1/2 miles from the highway, I get a flat tire.

No problem, I get out, pull out the full sized spare … and to make a long story short, the lug nut holes on the older model Caravan wheel do not match the later model Caravan. I have no cell service, but I decide to walk to the top of a hill I see and see if I can get service there.

Sure enough, I have one pip of service if I stand on one foot, hold a coat hanger in the air and wear a tin foil hat and after trying five times to reach AAA, I get through without getting disconnected. they connect me with the AAA Service people in the area. This conveniently located service station knows exactly where I am - he is familiar, and he is only 85 miles away, oh … and … his tow truck does not work, the starter needs replacing, so he will come to me, pick me up and my flat, bring me back to the station, change the tire, drive me back to my car and get me on my way!

This gives me time to explore the lava domes, which were fun to look at the little 20’ high funnels. If my memory serves me right there were 20 or more of them of all different sizes and formations, some were the size of a hollow tree, others were bigger, like a fort and others were much smaller.

Two hours later, my AAA representative arrives, we grab my wheel and flat and head back to his shop — 85 miles away – which I will refrain from calling civilization. It’s a metal barn in poor shape, an RV Park that resembles a trailer park you’d not let your kids visit and play in if you had a choice, and they have a diner and small grocery store that has one refrigerator and minimal groceries, but enough to camp and survive if necessary if you are camping there.

We get to the shop, and Bad News; he does not have the correct sized tire to replace on my rim. Good news: his father is at Costco in Boise and will pick up the tire and bring it back. This took another four hours before dd returned, but he did bring the right tire, they changed my flat, did not charge me an exorbitant price, only fair market value - and they drive me back to my handicapped minivan siting in the wilderness raised up on a floor jack. It is now dusk, we replace the tire and when I get back to the highway, it has been a 12 hour adventure.

All is well that ends well, and my tale has no real hicups, it was all a good experience and now I have a story I can share. My next one will be more humorous and a lot shorter. Stay tuned.

This is my 21st year as a comedy hypnotist. For all 21 years I have been doing high school, late-night, grad night and post prom parties. My market has expanced dramatically across the nation and I do approximately 30+ schools each year in about eight states.

This year I have already returned to Montana where I performed in Fairview, Glasgow and Baker; last weekend I was in Lusk, Wyoming and now I am on my way to St. John, North Dakota.

For the fun of it, I have begun collecting coffee mugs in each state I go to since December 25th - I have ten of them in three months. I was in Oregon for Christmas doing a show at a casino referred to me by Michael Mezmer; for New Years Eve I was in California at a country club in the San Francisoc East Bay. I had a holiday party in Minnesota, did a school show in February for a private school during their intersession that was in New York. Did a college show in Charlotte, NC and a lecture and show for a magic club in Vancouver, BC through Shawn Farquhar and also a fundraiser in Saskatchewan.

When I go to rent my cars, I usaully carry on a comedy dialogue that goes something like this:

 

Me as I approach the Hertz counter: “Mom (or dad if male behind counter), can I borrow the car?”

 

Them: “The car we have for you is a free upgrade. It’s a Chrysler 300.”

ME: “Oh goody. Lot’s of buttons, bells and whistles to play with.”

 

Them: “It has less than 1,000 miles on it.”

Me: “BaH! Silly people giving me a new car. I think I will take those extra insurances now!”

 

Them: “It does have a scratch on the passenger’s door.”

Me: “WHAT! That will slow me down. wind resistance, and I will never get layer now!”

 

Them: “would you like the fuel option?”

Me: “nope. Even if you offer me fuel for 50¢ less a gallon than in town, for every gallon I leave in the car, it is equal to six gallons of me refilling.”

 

Them: “Would you like any maps?”

Me: “I carry a GPS. I’m Jewish, without it I get lost for 40 years.”

 

Them: “Pleasure meeting you.”

Me: “Don’t jump to hasty decisions.”

 

I am sitting in Minnesota's airport on my way to Minot to drive to St. John. It's time to go. Please add comments, they help my SEO and lord knows I need help! All kinds of help!

 

 

December 21st, 2014 -- I just checked into the Grand Hotel in Minot, ND. I have performed in Minot many times in the last few years. It started with the ND State Fair and since then I have been doing all night parties and corporate events a lot here. This Grand Hotel sits majestically on the bluff overlooking the city. It is across from the airport and I have seen it every time I am here, but never entered the doors till now.

As I enter, I realize this is a classy place! I will be doing a show tonight for 200+ employees and guests that work for EnerBase, a regional Cenex gas station management chain. They run the gas stations and distribute fuel and lubricants. They are very big company. Not as big as Exxon-Mobile, but the same idea.

As I enter my hotel room , it is a suite. I say, “ah, what a nice room.” It’s a two-room suite very tastefully decorated with dark stained oak veneer furnishings. It brings a story to mind  - a story of the road.

Canadian maple leaf

THIS ARTICLE IS BEING UPDATED ON 12/17/19: THE RULES HAVE CHANGED AND ARE NOW EASIER FOR AMERICANS WORKING IN CANADA AND MAKING LESS THAN CAN$15,000. The following is taken directly from the Government of Canada Web Site: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/international-non-residents/information-been-moved/rendering-services-canada/guidelines-treaty-based-waivers-involving-regulation-105-withholding.html

"New simplified income tax process for non-resident artists and athletes

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has created a new waiver simplified process for self-employed non-resident artists and athletes earning money for performances in Canada. If you are a non-resident artist or an athlete performing in Canada for a fee and will earn no more than CAN$15,000 during the calendar year, you can use the simplified waiver process to cut down on paperwork, as well as reduce or eliminate the tax withheld on your earnings in Canada. Please see Simplified Regulation 105 income tax waiver application for non-resident artist and athletes for more information."

If you click on the link, it tells you the following:

"Artists and athletes: how the simplified process works

Your country of residence determines the steps required when you use the simplified process.

Process for residents of the United States

If you are an artist or athlete living in the United States (U.S.) and expect to earn no more than CAN$15,000 for performances in Canada during the calendar year, here’s how the process works:

  • Complete Section 1 of Form R105-S, Simplified Waiver Application, and give the form to the entity paying you to perform in Canada (the “payer”).
  • The payer will not withhold any of your Canadian income.
  • The payer will issue you a tax slip for proof of income earned in Canada by February 28 of the following year.
  • Report the amounts you earned in Canada on your U.S. income tax return.

If you do not earn other income in Canada during the calendar year, you have no more actions to take.

Example

A U.S. resident artist enters into a contract to perform a show in Canada for CAN$13,000 with a CAN$1,000 bonus to cover expenses. This is the artist’s only performance in Canada in the calendar year. Since Article XVI of the Canada – U.S. Tax Treaty exempts income earned by a U.S. resident artist when the gross income earned by the artist (which includes the amount paid for services and the bonus) does not exceed CAN$15,000 in the calendar year, the U.S resident artist can use this simplified waiver process:

  • The artist completes Section 1 of Form R105-S, Simplified Waiver Application.
  • The artist signs the form and gives it to the payer before the performance or any payment, including any deposit (no interaction with the CRA or Canadian identification number is required).
  • The payer makes sure the artist has completed and signed the form.
  • The payer completes their portion of the form and signs, which brings the waiver into force. The payer is then not required to withhold any funds and can pay the artist in full.
  • The payer keeps a copy of the signed Form R105-S, Simplified Waiver Application, for their records for a six-year period in the event that the CRA asks for it."

Life for Americans making less than $15,000 Canadian Dollars each in a fiscal year (if you are in a group, a team or a band, you can divide the revenue amongst the members) has just become MUCH easier.

If you will make more than CAN$15,000 in a fiscal year, you need to follow the following instructions still:

______________________________________________

It is March 2013, and I return to Canada to perform for a fundraising show in Kindersley, Saskatchewan, about 2 hours outside Saskatoon. Kindersley has a population of just under 5,000 and is a mineral rich farming community, like so many others in this region.

Over the last 25 years of my career, I have performed for a lot of fairs and expositions, including the Calgary Stampede, Saskatoon Prairielands Exhibition, Medicine Hat Exhibition, Royal Manitoba Winter Exhibition in Brandon, private parties for the military, and others.

In December 2011, I did not apply for a tax exemption before doing a show for a military squadron. This was my mistake and I knew better. Regaredless, it cost me $225.00, which the government withheld from my check and submitted to Revenue Canada (the equivalent of the Internal Revenue Service in the USA). The only way I was going to get that money back was to file a Canadian tax return. I didn’t bother.

Before working in Canada, U.S. citizens must apply for tax exemption. If they do not, it is mandated that the Canadian host retain 15% of gross payment and send it to Revenue Canada. To apply for tax exemption, there are a number of steps to take. It is not complicated, but it must be done at least 3-4 weeks before the event date to give Revenue Canada sufficent time to respond.

California coastline2012 July 8 - I recently went camping along the coast of California at Phieffer Big Sur State Park to get out of the San Francisco Bay Area and breathe some smoke. The neighbors at our next door site were friendly enough when we arrived, but there seemed to be some differences in how we communed with nature. The first sign was their Coke Zero, the giant red bag of Fritos chips, and the two cushioned, raised chairs their designer Scotties (dogs) sat on. The clincher was when they used a remote control to close the door of their VW SUV from 60 feet away...

Magic Castle, Hollywood CAOn March 19th, 2012 I flew to Long Beach on a whim, to visit the Magic Castle in Hollywood. I went there to visit a childhood friend of my father’s, George Schindler, and got to meet his wife, Nina, for the second time. George was performing in the Parlor at the Magic Castle and I had never seen him perform before. He arranged two guest passes for me, so I brought along hypnotist Marc Bachrach, whose home I stayed at while in the LA area. ...

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