Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

And the tour continues…

Cassi Cunningham, Mark Cunningham, and The Princess of Parodies

Cassi and Mark Cunningham

Wednesday, August 13th – drove to Sylvania, OH to spend some time with friends, Mark and Cassi Cunningham.   Cassi and I went shopping, and then I had a lovely dinner with her and her husband Mark at a fantastic Italian restaurant called Ciao!   It was delicious!  I am a cheese ravioli connoisseur, and that was some of the best I’d ever had.

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Part of my father’s tombstone.

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Bernie and Jan

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Aspen

Thursday, August 14th – after saying goodbyes to Mark and Cassi, I headed to Berea, OH, where I was born and raised.  My father is buried there, and a trip to this area would not seem right if I didn’t pay my respects to my first comedy mentor.  Then, it was on to North Royalton, OH to stay with our friends, Jan and Bernie, and their golden retriever, Aspen.  They are always fun to hang out with!  We had dinner at TGIFridays, and then lights out!

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The Cleveland skyline!

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Cleveland skyline at night, with The Terminal Tower in rainbow lights

Friday, August 15th – I spent the day running errands and doing laundry.  Jan and Bernie got home early, and they took me for a ride on their boat downtown Cleveland.    WOW!!!  The last time I had been on Lake Erie was on The Goodtime 2 (or 3), in 2002.  Their is nothing like the Cleveland skyline to me.  Every time I come to Cleveland, EVEN IN THE WINTER, I have such good feelings and memories about my hometown.  The three of us had dinner at The Edgewater Yacht Club, and then to the dock for a moonlit night.  The Gay Games were in town, so The Terminal Tower was lit up in rainbow lights!

Saturday, August 16th – Saturday, I headed over to Wickliffe, OH for a corporate show.  I couldn’t check in to the hotel until 3pm, so I amused myself at a nice joint called The Local Tavern.  Great portobello mushroom, grilled onion and goat cheese burger – pretty fancy for a local joint!   After checking in to the hotel, which yikes, had seen much better days, it was time to set up and prepare for the show.  The show really well – and I got some new fans.  :)

Sunday, August 17th – it was back to North Royalton, OH for a few more days with Bernie and Jan.

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Aunt Rose and Uncle Steve

Monday, August 18th – I had lunch with my Aunt Rose and Uncle Steve at Rockne’s…it was so great to see them.  Spent the afternoon working, and then prepared a healthy pork chop dinner for Jan and Bernie.

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Nidal, one of the owners of Funny Stop. My sister from another mother.

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Shawn Boyd, longtime Cleveland comedy buddy

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Sally Sinclair, Bill and Christine Snyder

Tuesday, August 19th – left for Cuyahoga Falls, OH to begin the first of my 7 shows at The Funny Stop.  I love this club!  I think of Funny Stop as my Ohio comedy family.  Tuesday is always open mic night.  It’s fun to see comedy in its’ infancy.  Young comedians with big hopes of making it big – each struggling to find their way down this humerous rabbit hole.  “We’re all mad, here!”  ~Lewis Carroll, from Alice in Wonderland   I received many compliments on “The Princess of Parodies in 25 minutes or less” show.  Yikes – I haven’t done 25 minutes since the last time I was here in January.  It was great seeing my Cleveland comedy brother Shawn Boyd, Cleveland comedy favorite Jeff Blanchard,  Funny Stop owners Pete, Tony and Nidal, Nick, and their wait staff…one of the best wait staffs in comedy!

Wednesday, August 20th – spent my time between the hotel room and Starbucks doing all those menial computer things you never have time to do at home…emails, sorting photos, and following up on those “non-urgent, non-important” things.  The show last night was fun, because long time family friends Christine and Bill Snyder, and Sally Sinclair came out!   They were in the antique car hobby with my parents – and it’s always nice to see familiar faces when you’re so far from home.

Thursday, August, 21st – I managed to sneak away to The Akron Art Museum – wowsa!  What a building and fun exhibits, IF you’re into modern art (which I am).  One of my favorite classes in college was art history, and I’ve always loved the creativity of the artist, and the more creative way their art is justified being in that exhibit by an “enlightened” art critic/historian.   So – here I am at Starbucks…awaiting Thursday night’s show…and calling this a wrap!!!!!

Brooklyn, MI

Greetings from Brooklyn, Michigan!  My adventures continue…

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Tang Dongbai dress in blacklight

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Tang Dongbai dresses in blacklight. In regular light, these dresses are white.

Wednesday, August 6th I left my grain silo in Bloomington, IL, and headed for Douglas, MI, home of comedian and comedy booker Jerry Donovan.  But on my way, I saw a billboard for the WallDog Mural Museum…and found myself turning off the highway and heading into Pontiac, IL.  I found the WallDog Mural Museum in a cute little town square, and wandered in only to discover “WallDogs” were those guys that painted the big billboards on sides of buildings and barns.  My father was a huge “Mail Pouch Tobacco” barn fan, and was always pulling over to take pictures of old Americana.  He left behind quite a collection of pictures and Mail Pouch memorabilia when he passed.  Also in this museum, were some white dresses by an artist named Tang-Dongbai, who does beautiful airbrush work.  When you turn on a black light, the plain white dresses come alive with a special ink that activates in blacklight.  I think I’d like to get a corset specially made for me, with music notes airbrushed on it.  I kicked around Pontiac for a few hours, had lunch, and then onwards to meet Jerry and Sarah for dinner.  We had a great time…and then I went back to his houseboat where I crashed for the evening.

IMG_1212Thursday, August 7th I spent some time on Butler Street in Saugatuck.  My goodness, there is some serious shopping to be done there!  In order to keep from blowing tons of cash, I spent much of my time at Uncommon Grounds, on the computer.  I had an “egg bake” there, which is “like” a “quiche” but I don’t know why the hell they don’t just call it a “quiche” instead of an “egg bake.”  Damn Hipsters!  Another cool shop I enjoyed was Swell Times.    They sold all kinds of pop culture and retro stuff.  Best of all, they played a CD from a guitar rift driven band called Man or Astroman.  THEY ROCKED!!!  I bought a few things and went on my way.

That night, my first show in the area was in Grandville, MI at a place called The Whisky River Saloon.  What a great place!   The audience came to have fun and everyone had a great time that night!  I was their third show – and I hope they’ll stick with it because it’s a room with some great potential!

Friday, August 8th I started my day having breakfast at Chequers.  They have these breakfast tacos that were to die for!  And they were $5 for 2 of them.  Then I headed out to Oval Beach for some rest and relaxation…

until…two moms and their 3 kids decided they wanted the same quiet spot I had, even though they were incapable of being quiet…grrr… so I hung out there until Noon and then headed back to the apartment I was staying at.  Jerry came by with comedian Kevin Kramis, and shared stories from the road.  Kevin is just an awesome guy and I hear he’s funny as hell.  I hope to catch his show someday!

IMG_1249Show that night was at the Black River Tavern in South Haven, MI – the FIRST FRIDAY NIGHT South Haven show ever!  They’ve been doing comedy on Saturday nights for awhile, but those were consistently packed out so they added a Friday night.  Food at The Black River Tavern is really good!  The crab cakes are about the best I’ve ever had.  The show went really well…that room was ready to party!

Saturday, August 9th was a housekeeping day.  I needed a few things at the grocery store and I needed to do laundry.  Next door to the laundromat, was a nail place so in between wash and dry cycles, I got a much needed manicure and pedicure. IMG_1259 I think I’ve only had 5 pedicures in my entire life – so what a treat that was!   Back to the room to catch up on emails and journaling, then back to the Black River Tavern for show #2.  Again – a fantastic venue and an audience that was ready for a great time!  It was also nice to meet Brian Corrion, owner of the Old Comedy Club in Naples and there to do a guest spot.  It’s a shame I had to meet someone who lives 2 hours from me in Michigan!

IMG_1258I so enjoyed working with Jerry Donovan.  He’s not only very funny, but he’s also a class act and has a great mind for the comedy business!   He does everything he can to make sure his rooms are run right, from booking the right comedians, to educating the wait staff, to making sure there are butts in seats.  I met him by chance on the Michigan leg of my January tour working for The Disgruntled Clown.

Sunday, August 10th I headed to Brooklyn, MI to go camping with friends I met while doing a New Year’s Eve gig in Livonia, MI in 2010.  It was great catching up with them, and I’ve so enjoyed the great outdoors for a few days.  Unfortunately, it rained all day yesterday, and then it dipped into the low 60s today so I had to buy a hoodie and a blankie.  It sure smells a lot like “fall” for mid August!  Tomorrow I visit friends in Sylvania, OH – then who knows where next?  All I can say, is that it sure was great catching up with all of them when I got here Sunday.  I am truly blessed to have all these wonderful people and experiences in my life.

St Louis, MO – day 2

Me with pink elephant

Me with pink elephant

Well, another banner day for me in St. Louis!  I went to visit the Scott Joplin House.  Wow!!!  I began playing Scott Joplin rags when I was about 13 or 14.  When I got hired to play background music for children’s plays, I’d often use Scott Joplin rags for scene changes and intermission.  I heard Scott Joplin played at antique car events my parents attended, silent movies…and of course…I used to dance to the soundtrack from the movie, The Sting.  Everyone would ask “Can you play The Entertainer?” and of course I could…then I’d throw in The Maple Leaf Rag.  The Pineapple Rag and The Ragtime Dance were my favorites.  And learning to play Scott Joplin’s music took time.  Break down the jagged rhythms in the right hand.  Practice the constant shifting of the left hand.  Then practice with hands together…SLOWLY.  And when I finally got it with my hands together…it was the best feeling a 14 year old geeky music girl could ever have.  Until I discovered boys, anyway!

When I saw the sign that I was minutes from Scott Joplin’s House – my heart raced and I knew I had to go.  I’m so glad I did!  The home was nothing spectacular.  In fact, none of his furnishings are in it.  He only lived in this particular home a year or so.  But jazz was king in the neighborhood, and many other great songs were born blocks from here, including Frankie & Johnny, and The St Louis Blues.  Below is a video of me playing an old player piano.  The rag is one of Joplin’s lesser known rags but one of my favorites, Solace.  The tour guide selected this piano roll over others, and I’m so glad he did because it’s the first time I heard it played with the Mexican flavor it’s supposed to have.

Afterwards, it was time for lunch and I was told to get Imo’s pizza.  It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t great…but it was all I needed to get me on my way.

Imo's PizzaImo's personal pizza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After lunch, it was time to head to Bloomington, IL where I had made arrangements to stay overnight in a grain silo.  But on the way, I went past Livingston, IL…and saw this marvelous roadside stop, known as Pink Elephant Antiques.  They sell all kinds of stuff inside an old gymnasium…unbelievable amounts of goodies and treasures to be found there!  When I grew up, my parents were ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS stopping at weird places hunting for treasures.  The weirder the better!  All I could do was laugh…the genetic code was cast.  :D  When I got into comedy, my first jokes were about my strange travels.  I’m the only person I know who’s been to both the Hare Krishna Temple of Gold in New Vrindaban, WV…and to have shook “stumps” with The Wild Mountain Man in South Dakota, who carved the alphabet in a pencil…with a chainsaw.  You might remember him on “That’s Incredible.”

On the way to my silo – the Princess Pilot had an auto b-day.  Happy 200,000 miles!

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I finally get to the silo – and here is where I wrote this blog from.  My “silo” is behind the tree.  It’s awesome – and my hostess Heather is a delight.  We had a fantastic dinner at a restaurant called Medici’s.  It was in Normal, IL – which is probably as close as I’ll ever get to Normal!  I would definitely stay here again.  I’ll have more pics of the inside tomorrow.  So…what a lovely day it has been!   More surprises are in store for me, I’m sure…and I hope they’re all wonderful discoveries and memories like the ones I had today.

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St Louis, Missouri

The Princess at the top of the Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri

The Princess at the top of the Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri

I had forgotten just how much I loved to visit new places and take pictures!  It seems like it has been forever since I went somewhere new, even though it hasn’t.  I had a few days in between my gig in Hattiesburg, MS and South Haven, MI so I decided to spend them in St Louis, MO.  I think the only time I’ve spent in St. Louis was for a connecting flight.  In any event, I so enjoyed my time at the Gateway Arch on August 4th, 2014.

The Gateway Arch is 630 ft high.  Construction on the arch started on Feb 12, 1963.  It was completed October 28, 1965, then opened to the public on June 10, 1967.   The tram ride up and down is 3-4 minutes, and in a little car with 5 seats.  Being a solo traveler – I could hop on any time.  I shared my ride up with a guy and his 3 kids, ages 4,6 & 9 I’m guessing.  Halfway up, he asks the kids what are they going to do if the tram gets stuck.  And then he decides to point at each of his kids and say stuff like “not enough meat on your bones.”  “You’re going to taste sassy.”  Oh great!  Being stuck in a little tram car with a potential cannibal is not exactly how I envisioned my day.  And then I realized – if our tram does get stuck…I’m not “family” and could easily feed all three of them.  Thank goodness we made it to the top!  At the top, you find yourself stuck in a narrow hall way with 100 people all fighting to look out about 20 teeny tiny windows.  There are ledges to lean on to take your pictures, and when you look down the hallway, all you see is a gaggle of butts from all over the world.  My icy, cold heart went out to the poor park ranger, who probably became a park ranger to save wildlife and prevent forest fires, but found himself inside the top of a national monument for hours on end looking at asses all day.   After 10 minutes of this non-sense, I got the perfect selfie and 2 decent shots of the 30 mile view, then headed back down.  I shared my tram car with a lovely Turkish couple and their 2 sons.  Luckily, they didn’t offer to feed me their children should the tram get stuck.

At 4:30, I hoped on The Riverboat Tour, which was enjoyable as well.   My boat was The Tom Sawyer, and I enjoyed hearing the history of the site told by a St Louis native in his midwestern drawl.   The boat staff was taking pictures of every one as the got on the boat, which is awkward when you travel by yourself.  What am I going to say when I show that picture to others?  “Oh…This is me, traveling by myself, AGAIN, because I’m a stand up comedian, didn’t get enough love as a child and thought I could make a living getting drunk strangers to like me in 30 seconds or less.”  It’s all the creepy narcissism of taking selfie…no need to add the pathetic Love Boat pre-cruise selfie to it.   Anyhow – I enjoyed myself, and St. Louis immensely.  I’ll hit a few more places today, before my next stop this evening…sleeping in a refurbished silo in Bloomington, IL.