Monday, June 22, 2015

The Appointment...

So I went to the Kaiser in San Francisco today to meet up with a Cardiologist that was recommended to me by a past cardiologist that I trusted. Since the past cardiologist isn't with Kaiser, he recommended that I go to the SF office.

So all my life I've known at some point in my life that I would need surgery to replace a valve. I have what is called a "Bicuspid Aortic Valve" - it has something that has been monitored all my life and the question has always been "When will I need the surgery?"

My doctor today is going to do a few more studies and talking with colleagues before we come up with a plan on how to proceed.

Within the next two weeks, I will need to get an MRI to see how bad of a leak my valve might have. I will also be taking an exercise test.

If the results of the MRI show the leak not be that bad then it is possible that I may not need surgery right away. However, the valve is quite narrowed which makes the heart's job of pumping blood to the rest of my body much tougher. So if surgery isn't needed right away, then the other option would be a catheder. The catheder would then be inserted thru my groin (ouch) and then with the catheder they would then open of the narrow valve. Now, the catheder method won't prevent me from ever needing surgery but it could delay the surgery about 10 years if successful. That would be nice. The catheder method would be an overnight stay whereas surgery would be 5 nights.

In the meantime, I am to avoid fast food and red meats and keep exercising as much as possible... as it can only help.

Assuming I don't need surgery anytime soon, you can catch me performing at these places soon...

June 30th - Spice N Ice - Gilroy, CA - 8pm

July 9th - Blue Lagoon - Santa Cruz, CA - 8:30pm

July 15th - San Jose Improv - San Jose, CA - 8pm




Thursday, June 18, 2015

Talking Redwood Comedy Festival and more...

On Friday, June 13th, I left home at 7:30am for Fortuna, CA and my buddy Brian went along to keep me company. Fortuna was holding the 2nd Annual Redwood Comedy Festival which took place June 13th and 14th. I was fortunate enough to participate the first year of the festival and was glad to be invited back for a second time.

I arrived in Fortuna around 1:30pm and grabbed some lunch. I was so hungry that I couldn't wait for the planned dinner for comedians later in the afternoon. After lunch, I went to check into the hotel that they booked for me. The hotel had two beds. If it didn't, then Brian probably wouldn't have tagged along. 

At 3pm, I went to the River Lodge Conference center to check-in with the other comedians and go through the details of what would happen with the Event Organizer. I then ended up finding myself sticking around for dinner and eating again. Free Lasagna!! How do I say no?! I'm actually glad I stuck around for dinner as I ended up sitting at a table full of comedians mostly from Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon.. There was Billy Anderson, Anica Cihla, Bri Pruett, and Nariko Ott to name a few,  I didn't talk too much at the table but just listened to the conversations that they were having. The main conversation that Billy brought up was if there was a funnier dog breed name than "Malamute." It seemed that everyone agreed that there wasn't a funnier name as "Shitzu" was just an easy way for people to make a joke. 

On Friday night, there were 6 different venues and 8 comedians performed at each of them. I performed at the Funky Monkey, which I had heard was like an adult Chuck E. Cheese. I was splitting the Hosting duties for the night with Mitch Mitchell, who is from Seattle.  Also performing at the Funky Monkey on Friday night were Joe Taylor, Ruby Gill, Josh Barnes, Chris Mejia, Danny Minch, and Krista Fatka.

The staff at Funky Monkey were really nice and they definitely made sure the comedians were getting enough to drink! We ended up performing two different shows, One was scheduled for 8pm-10pm then another for 10:30pm-12:30pm. The idea was that the audience members could take the shuttles to the 5 other venues during the half-hour break. 

Mitch Mitchell was the Host for the first part of the first show then I took over for her halfway thru. Overall, I feel that everyone did solid in the first show and we had a pretty decent crowd. The set-up was a little funky (ha) and there wasn't even a mic stand until Danny Minch stepped up and brought in one of his own.
A monkey on the wall inside Funky Monkey


Then it was time for the second show which I had the pleasure of Hosting for the first half. I was getting pretty drunk by this point and struggled thru some jokes - mostly different jokes than I did in the first half though. There weren't many people at our show at this point though. There were maybe 4 to 5 non-comedians in the audience total. I was excited when it was time to bring Mitch back up to host the second half of the show. Mitch was drunk just like me by this point. She eventually would take a slice of pizza from one of the audience member's tables. We ended the 2nd show early at midnight and a lot of us just hung out for a while. I ended up buying a Bacon Cheeseburger as I needed to eat something. 

Around 1 in the morning, Brian and I head back to our hotel which luckily was only one parking lot away from The Funky Monkey. 

Then around 2:30am as I'm sleeping in my bed, I hear a knock on the door. I turn over to see if Brian heard it too. He didn't wake up so I just assumed it was someone knocking on the wrong hotel door. Then the room phone rang. What the hell?! I say "Brian?! Brian?! Wake up." He doesn't wake up. Then shortly after again there is knocking on the door. So I finally have had enough and I get up to open the door very slowly. It is fuckin' Brian. "Dude, it's me," he says. Then he runs inside. Oh, and he is wearing nothing but his boxers!! I'm like "when the hell did you go outside?" He said, "I don't know." Apparently a security guard found him standing in his boxers by a vending machine. Brian tells me later that the security guard probably found him peeing there too. I'm still not sure how he ended up outside. He didn't seem more drunk than me... he started to think maybe he got roofied when at a different venue but we'll never really know. 

Surprisingly, I wake up Saturday with only a little headache. After some morning Starbucks then the headache is gone. Brian and I check out Downtown Fortuna a bit and also catch a movie at the old Fortuna Theater. 

At 4pm, it was time to check in for the big Saturday night show at the River Lodge Conference Center. We then had a Pizza Dinner at 5pm and again I sat with the Seattle and Portland comedians. They were probably wondering "Why the hell does this guy keep sitting with us?" We look over the evening's schedule and we know we are in for a long night.

The actual comedy show started at 8pm and it was supposed to end around 12:30am....but it did not.  I went on around 11:00pm. Dave Bressoud had an amazing set. I also thought Mitch Mitchell did a great job too. In fact, she is probably my favorite new (to me) comic that I met. Her set reminded me a bit of Maria Bamford in terms of style- and I don't think that is a bad thing at all. I tried to stay thru the entire show but I got so tired that I left before the last two comedians of the night performed. I'm sorry I didn't stay to watch you two. 

I slept better on Saturday night and had no weird people knocking on the door. After some Sunday morning Starbucks, it was back to San Jose for me (or Portland if that's where I'm from). 

In other news, on Monday the 22nd, I am going to Kaiser Permanente in SF to see a Heart Doctor for a 2nd opinion. So not long after Monday I should know whether I will need valve replacement surgery soon or not. Again, this is something I've known I'd need at some point in my life, it is just a matter of when. The operation would have me in the hospital for about 5 days and the recovery time would be 2 months. On the plus side, that would be a lot of down time for writing material. 





Wednesday, April 1, 2015

2015 Major League Baseball Predictions



The 2015 Major League Baseball season gets underway on Sunday Night, April 5th with a match-up between the division rival Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. Not only does the new season bring a fresh start for every team but this year it also happens to mark the first season for a new commissioner, Rob Manfred. Manfred has already been vocal about new rules he'd like to see implemented. Some of these rules will take effect in 2015 and some will never get put into play. Manfred brought up the notion that not allowing defensive shifts by players might allow for more offense. This idea was completely shot down by many. Why reward a batter for being one-dimensional and punish other teams for employing strategy? This rule will not be taking effect. Manfred also wanted to see the overall pace of baseball games go quicker. Some pace of game rules will be going into effect in 2015 and if you're interested in reading up on them, this is a good article.
Rob Manfred
In 2015, Manfred is worried about the pace in between innings and maybe in 2016, he'll worry about the space in between his teeth. After all, you want this game to appeal to younger children, right? Well, you look a little creepy

With all that being said, here are my 2015 Major League Baseball predictions for the standing will finish in the AL West, AL Central, AL East, NL West, NL Central and NL East. I will also make predictions for major end of the season awards. 


American League West 
Los Angeles Angels  (95-67)
Oakland Athletics (90-72)*
Seattle Mariners (89-73)
Texas Rangers (80-82)
Houston Astros (77-85)

The American League West looks a lot different than it did in 2014, most notably the Oakland Athletics who traded 6 of their 7 All-Stars since last summer. While they lost a lot in star power, they gained a lot in young prospects. Manager Bob Melvin should be able to pull the right strings together with the new group of players he has to still contend for a Wild-Card spot. Even though Spring Training games don't count, the Athletics have made a good showing. Sonny Gray has proven himself as the ace of the Oakland A's staff. Garrett Richards of the Angels suffered a horrible injury and it was a huge blow to their team last year. While outfielder Josh Hamilton's immediate future may be in double due to reoccurring drug abuse problems, having Richards back will only help the Angels. In Seattle, they added 2014 AL Home Run Champ, Nelson Cruz, which will help give Robinson Cano protection. They still lack a bit in pitching depth and Fernando Rodney may shoot less arrows in the sky this season. The Texas Rangers are coming back after a lot of injuries in 2014 and that is not an understatement. However, their best starting pitcher, Yu Darvish, has already been ruled out for the 2015 season after having Tommy John surgery. The Houston Astros will improve in 2015 but it will not be enough. AJ Hinch will not last as a manager long for Houston as he never should have been hired in the first place. Jose Altuve will continue to rack up his hits. 



American League Central
Chicago White Sox  (89-73)
Detroit Tigers (88-74)
Kansas City Royals (84-78)
Cleveland Indians (81-81)
Minnesota Twins (76-86)

The American League Central title should come down to a race between the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers. Detroit Tigers might have the best offense in all of baseball with the addition of Yoenis Cespedes. However, they also lost two key starting pitchers in Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello. The White Sox seemed to only add players to their squad including their new closer who departed the Bronx for the Windy City, David Robertson. Kansas City had a great run last year and almost found themselves winning the World Series. With the improvements in the AL Central this season, a repeat performance is going to be tough. The key player in a return them to the playoffs will be Yordano Ventura, who will take over as the Royals' ace.  Nobody seemed to know who Corey Kluber of the Indians was until he won the 2014 AL Cy Young Award. Now that people know his name, can he have a similar season to his breakout 2014? The Minnesota Twins got rid of longtime manager, Ron Gardenhire, but replaced him a familiar face in Paul Molitor. Molitor needs Joe Mauer to regain his stroke and remain healthy all season to have any thoughts about competing in 2015. 


American League East
Baltimore Orioles  (94-68)
Boston Red Sox (92-70)*
Toronto Blue Jays (86-76)
Tampa Bay Rays (80-82)
New York Yankees (78-84)


The Baltimore Orioles should be able to capture the AL East title again. Even though they lost star players like Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz, they also won the AL East last season with Manny Machado out for a majority of time, Chris Davis suspended, and Matt Wieters hurt. If these three guys can come back strong then so should Baltimore. The Boston Red Sox won't make repeating easy though as they look to go from worst-to-first yet again. It will be interesting to see how Pablo Sandoval does with his new team after winning three World Series rings with San Francisco. The Blue Jays are right up there with the Detroit Tigers in terms of dangerous lineups. The addition of Josh Donaldson after a trade with Athletics, makes their lineup even more dangerous especially in a hitter's ballpark. A lot could end up riding on two rookie pitchers, Daniel Norris and Aaron Sanchez, for the Blue Jays to make the postseason. Tampa Bay and New York will battle it out for last place in the AL East as weird as it may seem. The Yankees have a lot of pitching questions and the Tampa Bay Rays have a new GM and Manager. Didi Gregorius has huge shoes to fill for the captain in New York but at least he isn't 40 years old.  Tampa Bay needs Matt Moore to regain his 2013 form after missing most of 2014.

National League West
Los Angeles Dodgers  (96-66)
San Francisco Giants (87-75)*
San Diego Padres (84-78)
Arizona Diamondbacks (72-90)
Colorado Rockies (70-92)

The San Diego Padres were the noisemakers of the NL West  during the offseason as they acquired Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, and Derek Norris in trades to help bolster their lineup. They later signed James Shields to anchor their pitching staff. Although they didn't make any huge offseason moves, the San Francisco Giants look to improve with the return of a healthy Matt Cain in their rotation. Health will be the key for the Giants as they look to repeat as champs. The Diamondbacks have a new GM in Dave Stewart and Manager in Chip Hale. Their first full season should prove to be quite the test. One player on the Diamondbacks to keep an eye on is centerfielder, Ender Inciarte, who impressed as a rookie last season. The Colorado Rockies success depends much on the success of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Can these two stay healthy? Even if they do, I'm not sure if the Rockies have enough pitching.  The Dodgers should repeat as the NL West Champs but it won't do them any good if Don Mattingly cannot properly manage a  game when it comes time for the playoffs.


National League Central
St. Louis Cardinals  (90-72)
Pittsburgh Pirates (85-77)
Chicago Cubs (83-79)
Cincinnati Reds (75-87)
Milwaukee Brewers (73-89)

The Chicago Cubs aren't going to finish in last place! As much as I would like to see the Cubs make the playoffs in 2015, I think they are still a year away. My apologies to the Back to the Future movie fans. The Cubs definitely improved during the offseason though. They landed a good starting pitcher in Jon Lester as he reunites with team President, Theo Epstein, in the Windy City. The player with the best 2015 Spring Training, Kris Bryant, will start the season in the minors due to some stupid rule where they can avoid having him become a free agent sooner than they want by keeping him in the minors for a few weeks. It won't be long until he gets called up though and should be the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year. The Central is still the Cardinals division to win. Even if Adam Wainwright isn't 100% healthy, they have a good pitching staff. The Pirates will continue to play well but need A.J. Burnett to be the same pitcher he was when he last played for the Pirates and not the pitcher he was last season with the Phillies. The Reds traded away two of their top starting pitchers and while their offense is great, they can't have Johnny Cueto pitch everyday. The Brewers could very well surprise and finish in first place instead of last place. I don't expect Jonathan Lucroy to have the same type of season as last year though.


National League East
Washington Nationals (95-67)
Miami Marlins (87-75)*
Atlanta Braves (80-82)
New York Mets (76-86)
Philadelphia Phillies (66-96)

The Washington Nationals already had an amazing starting rotation and then they went out and spent a lot of money to bring Max Scherzer into the fold. The Miami Marlins have a good young core of talent in guys like Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton. If Jose Fernandez can rebound nicely from Tommy John surgery last year then they should compete for a Wild-Card spot.  The Atlanta Braves lost some key members of their team and while they got a nice pitcher in Shelby Miller from the Cardinals it won't be enough.  The New York Mets have one guy returning from Tommy John surgery in Matt Harvey and another guy who will miss the season due to the same surgery in Zack Wheeler. The Philadelphia Phillies will likely be the worst team in all of Major League Baseball in 2015. They lost guys like Jimmy Rollins (to the Dodgers) and Cliff Lee (to injury). The guys that they do have still are old. Their star pitcher, Cole Hamels, will most likely be traded by the July 31st trade deadline. 



Wild Card Games:
Boston Red Sox defeat Oakland Athletics (hope I'm wrong to pick against my team)
San Francisco Giants defeat Miami Marlins 

Division Series:
Baltimore Orioles defeat Chicago White Sox (3-2)
Boston Red Sox defeat Los Angeles Angels (3-1)
Los Angeles Dodgers defeat San Francisco Giants (3-1)
Washington Nationals defeat St. Louis Cardinals (3-2)

Championship Series:
Baltimore Orioles defeat Boston Red Sox (4-3)
Washington Nationals defeat Los Angeles Dodgers (4-2)

World Series:
Washington Nationals defeat Baltimore Orioles (4-1)


AWARDS:
AL MVP:  Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels 
NL MVP:  Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
AL CY YOUNG:  Kevin Gausman, Baltimore Orioles 
NL CY YOUNG:  Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers 
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Andrew Heaney, Los Angeles Angels
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Kris Bryant , Chicago Cubs 
AL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Derek Holland, Texas Rangers 
NL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds 
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Bob Melvin, Oakland A's 
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Mike Redmond, Miami Marlins





Friday, March 14, 2014

2014 Major League Baseball predictions

The 2014 Major League Baseball season begins in a little more than week from now. The first game is on March 22nd in Australia between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks. That's not a typo. The game will be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground which is being converted into a baseball configuration just so they can host the opening series. The first game will be televised live at 1am PST. 
MLB has opened the season in Japan but this is a first for Australia. The idea behind this is to get more people in the world interested in baseball. I understand that but it makes for a wacky scheduled for both the Dodgers and Diamondbacks. They will be playing two games that count as part of the regular season and then go back to playing exhibition games for about week until restarting the regular season again when all the other teams start their season.

Despite their wacky schedule, I am excited, as always, for the baseball season to begin. Here are my predictions for the 2014 season -

American League West 
Oakland Athletics  94-68
Texas Rangers 90-72*
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 85-77
Seattle Mariners  78-84
Houston Astros 70-92

The American League West is perhaps the toughest division in baseball. The Rangers traded for First Baseman Prince Fielder from the Detroit Tigers. With the Arlington ballpark now being his home, it wouldn't surprise me if Fielder hits 40+ home runs this season. The Mariners were aggressive over the offseason signing Second Baseman, Robinson Cano, to a lucrative deal and also added closer Fernando Rodney. The Angels will regret trading power hitting Mark Trumbo to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Astros will not lose 100 games this season but will not be out of last place  yet.  The Athletics somehow made their bullpen even stronger by getting Luke Gregerson and trading for Jim Johnson, who will replace Grant Balfour as closer. With their starting staff and strong relief corps (and their depth in event someone was to go down) the A's should finish atop the West for the third season in a row.


American League Central
Detroit Tigers 92-70
Kansas City Royals  84-78
Cleveland Indians 82-80
Chicago White Sox 76-86
Minnesota Twins 68-94

The Detroit Tigers will win the AL Central fairly easy this season. The Cleveland Indians won't provide as much of a contest as they did in 2013 now that they let pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir move on to other teams.  The Kansas City Royals will be fun to watch  especially if Mike Moustakas carries his hot hitting in Spring Training into the regular season. The Royals still lack in the pitching department though. The Chicago White Sox will look to their Rookie of the Year candidate from Cuba, Jose Abreu, to supply them with some extra power.  Some have said he is the best power hitter to come from Cuba so far.  The Minnesota Twins added Phil Hughes and  Ricky Nolasco to their pitching rotation but it won't be enough to make the playoffs.



American League East
Tampa Bay Rays  95-67
Boston Red Sox   93-69*
New York Yankees 89-73
Baltimore Orioles 84-78
Toronto Blue Jays 78-84

The AL East division could end up in any order and it wouldn't surprise me. All the teams in the division are filled with talent. The Rays didn't trade David Price like many expected them to so there is no reason why they can't win the East with their pitching. The defending World Series Champion Red Sox won't make winning the East easy though. Grady Sizemore is hoping to have a comeback year with the Red Sox as there are talks he may win the center field job out of spring training. The Yankees, as they so often do, went out and signed a handful of players including catcher Brian McCann, outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, outfielder Carlos Beltran, and Japanese pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka. While I am not picking the Yankees to make the playoffs, it wouldn't surprise me if they do. If they do, prepare to hear a lot more talk about Derek Jeter who is retiring after the 2014 season, his 20th with the Yankees. Baltimore will need their starting pitchers to step up to make a run at the playoffs and as of now, they still have questions regarding their closer. They initially signed Grant Balfour during the offseason but didn't like what they saw with his phsyical so they backed out the deal. As of now, it looks like Tommy Hunter will be the Orioles closer, but how effective can he be when pitching back to back games? The Toronto Blue Jays will put up runs without a doubt but can R.A. Dickey repeat his CY Young ways when he won the award with the New York Mets?


National League WestLos Angeles Dodgers 90-72
San Francisco Giants 85-77
Arizona Diamondbacks 80-82
San Diego Padres 72-90
Colorado Rockies  71-91

The Los Angeles Dodgers have become the big spenders in baseball. Last year it didn't seem they were even going to click together, but eventually they did and there was no stopping them from winning the division. They rewarded their CY Young award winning pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, with a seven year, 215 million dollar contract extension. They played most of the 2013 season without their star centerfielder, Matt Kemp. The Giants kept most of their 2013 team in tact for 2014. The most noticeable person missing from that team will be Barry Zito. Taking Zito's place on the roster is his former Oakland teammate, Tim Hudson. Hudson is coming back from an ankle injury but was a nice pickup by the Giants for their rotation. I expect starter Matt Cain to have a bounce back 2014 campaign as well. Do the Giants have someone they can turn to in the rotation if Tim Lincecum can't seem to find his way back on track? Can first baseman, Brandon Belt, produce numbers for a whole season like he did last September? It will be interesting to see. The Arizona Diamondbacks added Mark Trumbo who they got in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Trumbo should end up with near 40 home runs playing in that hitter's ballpark in Arizona, Chase Field. The San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies will battle for last place. The Rockies will wind up in the cellar, just one game back of the Padres.

National League Central
St. Louis Cardinals 96-66
Cincinatti Reds    89-73*
Pittsburgh Pirates 87-75*
Milwaukee Brewers 77-85
Chicago Cubs 65-97

The St. Louis Cardinals have no reason to not win the National League Central again. Adam Wainright leads a great starting rotation, the bullpen has flame throwers like Trevor Rosenthal, and their offense added shortstop, Jhonny Peralta, even though he doesn't know how to spell his first name. The Reds lost a couple key names from their 2013 team but rookie Billy Hamilton should steal near 90 bases this season and will be one of the most exciting players to watch in baseball. I've seen him play in person before and his speed is amazing. The Pittsburgh Pirates didn't make much noise during the offseason in terms of moves but the bats of Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, and Starling Marte, should still keep the Pirates in contention. Why the Milwaukee Brewers signed starting pitcher, Matt Garza, to a deal,  is a mystery to me. He should have a fun time fielding more bunts in the National League. The Chicago Cubs are still a year or two from putting it all together as they have some prospects that are not quite Major League ready. A Cubs player to keep an eye on in 2014 is Junior Lake.

National League East
Washington Nationals 93-69
Atlanta Braves 85-77
Philadelphia Phillies 81-81
New York Mets 78-84
Miami Marlins 71-91

What I expected to be a close race for first place in the NL East a week ago has suddenly changed. The Washington Nationals added starter Doug Fister to an already impressive starting rotation. The Atlanta Braves, on the other hand, had two pitchers (Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy) go down with injuries in Spring Training recently and both look like they need Tommy John surgery which would likely keep them out all season. The Braves did recently sign starter, Ervin Santana, to help ease their pain, but unless Santana found out somewhere how to be consistent then the signing won't be much of a gain. The Phillies may be old but they do appear to be healthy for the first time in a while. The New York Mets also have a pitcher lost for most of the season in Matt Harvey. The Mets hope that signing Bartolo Colon, who has a great 2013 season with the Oakland A's, will help fill the void left by Harvey. Colon will likely hurt himself midseason running the bases, perhaps crushing an infielder in the process. That's just the Mets luck, right? Unfortunately for the Miami Marlins, 2013 Rookie of the Year winner, Jose Fernandez, can't start every day for the fish. Christian Yelich could become the Marlins next All-Star everyone talks about.

Playoffs:
 
Wild Card Games:
Texas Rangers defeat Boston Red Sox
Pittsburgh Pirates defeat Cincinnati Reds

Division Series: Tampa Bay Rays defeat Texas Rangers (3-1)
Oakland A's defeat Detroit Tigers (3-2)
St. Louis Cardinals defeat Pittsburgh Pirates (3-0)
Los Angeles Dodgers defeat Washington Nationals (3-2)

Championship Series:Tampa Bay Rays defeat Oakland A's (4-2)
St. Louis Cardinals defeat Los Angeles Dodgers (4-3)

World Series
:
St. Louis Cardinals defeat Tampa Bay Rays (4-1)

 
Awards:
AL MVP: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
NL MVP:  Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
AL CY YOUNG:  Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
NL CY YOUNG: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds
AL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Cory Hart, Seattle Mariners
NL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Tim Hudson, San Francisco Giants
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Matt Williams, Washington Nationals















Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Comedy Olympics

Last week, the Winter Olympics were wrapping up in Sochi. I must admit I did not catch much of the Olympic games on TV but it didn't bother me too much. I have a hard time watching sporting events that have been tape delayed. I would likely find out the results on Twitter, Facebook, or on the radio before I even started to watch.

While the Olympians were working hard on their goals, I was hard at work on mine. I had been booked a few months ago for a gig in a small town of Selma, CA on February 22nd. The gig was a fundraiser for the Selma Public Education Foundation. I was asked to emcee the show and was offered pay and a hotel room for the night. I was excited for the gig but knew that I had to knock off some rust and get myself "game-ready" so to speak.

For almost the whole month of January I didn't do any shows because I had been sick so I made it an effort to get in as much stage time as I could before the February 22nd show so I would be ready.

There are some comedians without day jobs who are able to do numerous shows during a week and not get tired. I work a 7am-4pm job Monday thru Fridays though so I knew I would be pushing myself a bit.

On Monday the 17th, I went to Woodham's Lounge in Santa Clara, CA for an open mic which is ran by fellow comedian, Pete Munoz.

It turned out that 4 (3 ladies, 1 guy) of my co-workers decided to go to Woodham's that night and they ended up being the center of attention. That may not have been the best thing. The women had been drinking for a bit before I had even arrived. I then signed up on the open mic list and was slated to go up 7th. The other comedians there quickly found out that these people were my co-workers and said, "Thanks a lot!" Most of the other comedians decided to just talk to them since they couldn't get them to shut up. I thought the whole thing was funny. These are the kind of things that happen at an open mic.

It got even more interesting when one of my lady co-workers (April) ended up getting sick before I even took the stage. I think she now holds the record for consecutive time spent in the bathroom at Woodham's.

Fellow comedian, Hannibal Thompson, was on stage when Melissa (one of my co-workers) got locked outside. For some reason, Melissa thought Hannibal was the one that locked the door so she started approaching him on stage and getting in his face. Hannibal handled it well and got a kick out of it. 

When my turn came up, I did about 5 minutes of mostly older material as all I was trying to do was re-establish my timing. It didn't bother me that barely anyone was paying attention.

Another lady co-worker, Cami  thought comedy looked easy so decided to sign up for the open-mic herself. She got booed off stage. Haha. I went up to her and said, "pretty easy, huh?"  Hannibal  told her a few pointers then took a photo with her and Melissa.

Around 11:30pm or so, it was time to drag April out of the bathroom and head to our respective homes.

On Tuesday the 18th, I went to Agave Restaurant and Bar in San Jose, CA, which has a Tuesday night comedy show run by Melanie Bega. This show is an open mic which has to be signed up for in advance. I opened my set with a joke I had just came up with a few days earlier where I compare comedians to musicians. Unfortunately, I messed it up as I mixed two jokes into one. I told the audience I was going to try it again though because I needed to work out the kinks. When I wasn't on the stage at Agave, I was eating their food. I love their Carnitas Burrito!

On Wednesday the 19th, I was booked in a show at Station 55 in Gilroy, CA and run by comedian Sam Meeker. Sam is the same guy who now runs the Morgan Hill Playhouse show that I had produced until the end of last year. I had asked Sam a week before if I could get a spot so I could prepare for Saturday and he said it wouldn't be a problem.  My good college friend, Cecily, and her husband, Dan, ended up coming to the show with another couple. Also, some audience members who would frequent the 9 Lives Club shows when I did shows there, were also in attendance. This time I nailed the opening bit about comparing comedians to musicians. I was really happy with how the bit went over.  The rest of the lineup was great as well, which included Matt Curry, David Burger (first time meeting him), Daymon Ferguson, and headliner Rachel McDowell.

I visited with Cecily and Dan for a bit after the show then decided to go down the street to The Longhouse Restaurant and Bar for an open mic.  I hadn't been to The Longhouse before but the word I got from other comedians was to go up early as the crowds get really drunk and rowdy.  When I arrived, there weren't too many people there. I waited around for a while and the open mic eventually begins around 11:30pm... This isn't a comedy only open mic, but the guy who went on first was also a comedian. I then went on next. I was feeling really tired at this point but still went thru some bits as best as I could. I did my joke about Vegetarians and how I saw a billboard that said, "Becoming a Vegetarian solves 80% of Global Warming" and then a lady from the bar yells "That's true!" So of course I responded to her and proceeded to say that Vegetarians are stupid. 
(note: if you're a vegetarian, this is just a joke, relax, you're not all stupid)

I get off stage then head to the bar and talk to a couple sitting there. The guy tells me he went to San Jose State so we talk for a bit and then I called it a night.

On Thursday the 20th, I was on a pre-booked open mic at The Blue Lagoon in Santa Cruz, CA which is run by comedian DNA. I picked up my friend, Brian, from his work and he went along with me to the gig. As we usually do, we went to 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall before the show, which is right down the street from The Blue Lagoon. Brian's dad met up with us as well. I ordered a double bacon cheeseburger then asked myself why as I only finished half.

After a couple beers at 99 Bottles I then went to The Blue Lagoon and downed another beer. That was probably a bad idea and I ended up messing up the comedian/musician bit yet again. It started off really well  - I just didn't execute it properly.  The drive home seemed like forever and I couldn't wait to get to sleep.

I thought about getting another set somewhere else on Friday but decided to just take it easy and rest.

On Saturday the 22nd, I left San Jose around noon for Selma. It was about a 2 hour and 30 minute drive. I left early so I could get the full extent of my hotel stay - check in as early as possible and leave as late as possible. Perhaps it doesn't seem like a big deal, but this is the first gig I've been booked for where I have been paid and provided a room to stay. While I hope it happens again soon (and I do think I am at point in my career where I deserve it), I still wanted to enjoy it to the fullest.

I reported to the venue around 5:30pm. I had been told there would be a welcoming committee that was taking the comedians out to dinner but apparently that fell through. I was okay with that though as I don't like eating too much before performing.They still had some nice complimentary appetizers for the comedians also for the paying customers.

The outside of the Selma Arts Center is pretty neat and the inside of the theater is beautiful as well.

Look at Selma Arts Center from across street.

 View of stage from balcony.

I was told that the show had been sold out. It turns out that while it was "sold out" about 1/4 of the people who bought tickets did not show up. They likely just wanted to donate to the cause which is a bit of a bummer for those who were still wanting to see the show.

I was emcee and the other comedians on the bill were Karen Rontowski, Jason Love, and headliner Kabir Singh. I have worked with Jason once previously and Kabir many times before this show. I ended up meeting Karen just seconds before the show.

Since it was a fundraiser for public education, I started with the joke I thought best fit. My slow children joke. I phrased it a little different for them. "I'm glad that Selma is having this fundraiser for education. You would never see something like this in San Jose. I drove by an elementary school the other day and saw a sign across the street that said 'Slow Children.' I thought 'well, what the hell is the school there for anyway? It's supposed to fix that problem!' I was so pissed off I sped right through the zone." The joke got a great response.

There was one guy in the audience that definitely wanted attention... yelling from the moment I stepped on stage. It seemed like it was his first time in public. I also hear he tried to sneak beer into the theater and ended up spilling some. I ignored him though as I knew Kabir would take care of him when it was his turn to take the stage. Kabir would later say something to him along the lines of  "You're Indian? You look more like a Mexican."

Karen Rontowski, Jason Love, and Kabir Singh all had great sets. Afterwards, all of us but Karen, who had to leave early, stood outside to talk to people and sell some merch.

We were then invited to an after party at a place called Spike N Rail which shared the same parking lot with the hotel so that was very convenient. Kabir and I went to the after party and we were basically treated like rock stars. I never paid a dime for any of my drinks. The people of Selma were all really nice and appreciative. I wish I had asked for the girl's name who bought me my second drink... she was cute.  The Indian guy was pretty much on Kabir's nuts the whole time, haha. I was asked about my TV credits by some people at the after party. (Karen has done Letterman, Comedy Central - Jason has been on HBO and Last Comic Standing - and Kabir will make his Comedy Central debut in April.) I told them all I had were local TV credits at the moment and was still waiting to be "discovered" in that way. They seemed surprised. Kabir and I were the last ones standing at the bar before heading to our respective rooms. It was also good to just chat with him though I don't remember everything we discussed.

I was then really hungry. I wanted pizza. It was almost 2am. I went online to see if anyone was still delivering pizza because obviously I was too messed up to drive. No luck. I ended up going to the Taco Bell across the street and made it there just before they closed and brought the food back to my hotel.

I left my hotel at 11am and decided to stay in the area for a bit. I took about a 20 minute drive to Fresno to see the Fresno St. Grizzlies baseball team play Nevada. I had seats 3 rows behind home plate. It marks another stadium I have gone to that I can scratch off my list. Fresno St. ended up winning 11-9. 

I then headed home after my eventful weekend.

To top it all off, I'm being told the show in Selma is getting nothing but great reviews from those who went.






Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 - In a Nutshell

The year 2013 provided many memorable moments for me personally (comedy shows - my favorite baseball team, the Oakland A's winning the AL West again - my favorite football team, the San Francisco 49ers being in the Super Bowl - to name a few) but also some moments I could have done without (moving back in with my parents...ugh) - WHAT'S UP, LADIES?!? ... but overall, 2013 was a pretty good year.

I decided in the beginning of the year that it would be my last as host/producer of the monthly comedy shows at 9 Lives Club in Gilroy, CA and the Playhouse in Morgan Hill, CA.  I started hosting/producing comedy shows in Morgan Hill in the Summer of 2006. In 2009, due to the success of the Morgan Hill show,  I started producing another show in Gilroy at The Gaslighter, which in 2010 became the 9 Lives Club. I booked the same talent for both shows. The Gilroy show was on the last Wednesday of the month and the Morgan Hill show was the following night.

Why did I decide to stop now?

When I started running the comedy shows, my goal was to provide comedians with a venue in which they could get some valuable stage time. This meant each comedian would get at least 10 minutes which is more than the 3-5 minutes a comedian would get at most open mic nights. I wanted audiences that expected comedy when they walked into the venue. While open mics in bars are great for building your routine, it is hard to judge your material when not everyone there showed up expecting to seeing a performance.  Finally, I wanted to pay the comedians and hopefully make a little money myself. With help from some great sponsors, I was able to establish all of these. I had accomplished everything I had set out to do. I even recorded and produced my first comedy album, Slow Child.

I felt that not only was I ready for the change but so was the audience. While I appreciated all the regulars, I could only imagine what it was like to hear a lot of the same jokes over and over each month. While I did try adding new material to each show it wasn't always a success.

Finally, I plan on moving. As mentioned in a previous blog, I am hoping to move to the Sacramento area soon. So I figured it was best to have a set date for my last show instead of just leaving randomly.

Here is a look at the comedians I worked with in Gilroy and Morgan Hill in 2013 -

January 2013 - with Griffin Daley (center) and Michael Mancini.

February 2013 - With Liz Grant, Kate Willett, and Danny Allen.

March 2013 - With Harmony McElligott and Sammy Obeid(center). Brendan Lynch was also on this show but photos of him are rare.

April 2013 - With Eddy Jayson (left), DNA, and Dan St. Paul (right).

May 2013 - with Anthony Hill, Melanie Bega, and Matt Gubser (right).

June 2013 - with Mark Pitta (center) and Norm Goldblatt. Paul Green was also on this show but not pictured.

July 2013 - with Dave Burleigh and PX Floro-Carrasco. Jesse Hett was also in this show, but not pictured.

August 2013 - with Bryce Druzin, Marc Yaffee, and Mike Betancourt (right).
Marc Yaffee recorded his comedy album in Morgan Hill.

September 2013 - with Milt Abel (center) and Pete Munoz. Sean McKenzie was also on the bill but not in picture.

October 2013 - with Dan Mires, Sam Meeker, and Cory Robinson (dressed as Mike Tyson). Butch Escobar was also on the bill but not pictured.

November 2013 - my final show as host/producer with fan favorites - Michael Mancini and Huck Flyn



After the conclusion of the November 2013 show in Morgan Hill, I was shocked and speechless when the Mayor or Morgan Hill, Steve Tate, came up on stage to present me with this Certificate of Recognition. 



Even though I am moving on myself - hopefully I will start another show in the Sacramento Area - I knew that this shouldn't mean that the shows in Gilroy and Morgan Hill should just end because I was leaving. Unfortunately, 9 Lives Club in Gilroy ended up losing their lease but the show in Morgan Hill will continue and Sam Meeker is the guy I chose to take over my duties as host/producer. I know he will do great.


Here is a cool flyer for the first show where Sam is the man in charge - should be great!











Friday, August 16, 2013

Checking in with friends from San Jose State

I've been meaning to make this blog entry for a while now but as if I was still in college, I procrastinated. Now it is on my mind and it has my full attention. It is only midnight so it is a good time to start as any. I think best at these hours of the night/morning.

I am now 31 years old, no longer a kid, but never sure I will consider myself an adult. Through my school, work, and everyday life I have met a lot of amazing people. Some people I keep in touch with better than others. Some people simply disappear whether you wanted them to or not.

With this entry, I want to share with you some of the amazing people I met at college at San Jose State University. These are some of the fellow students who have at some point worked with me, inspired me, made me laugh, made me cry, and just made life more enjoyable. While I don't talk to them or see them as much today as I would like - they've definitely played big roles in who I am today. They are all amazing talents and I suggest you give their websites and/or facebook pages a visit. (Again, this is just a sample of some of my amazing fellow students from college - and definitely not all of them!)


Netta Brielle - I knew her as Aquanetta in Theater History class but had also seen her perform in Stage Productions at SJSU. I remember her having one of the most amazing singing voices I have ever heard so it is no surprise that she is a recording artist now for Atlantic Records! She has worked with many other great artists including Oakland's own Too Short. Be sure to follow her on Twitter @nettabrielle. You can check out her website at www.nettabrielle.com and check out her latest music video "More To A Kiss" below -
                               
Ali Hoffmann -  I'm not sure if Ali remembers or not, but she once brought up the question to me. "What if for some strange reason we were to get married? How would we spell our last name?" It's true, she does spell her last name wrong, but she is still a very talented person. I had the pleasure sharing the stage with Ali my first semester at San Jose State in a production of The Crucible. She played the lead role of Abigail Williams. I played a smaller role with 2 lines. My character's name was Hopkins. I actually remember one of my lines. It is a part where I (Hopkins) touch Abigail (Ali) and say, "She's cold your honor, touch her!" 
Ali Hoffmann
Ali is definitely no longer cold. Ali recently appeared in an episode of Major Crimes on TNT. She also played Mystique in a commercial promo for the new Wolverine movie. Even more recently she booked a gig shooting a commercial for Scion. You can check out Ali Hoffmann's website at www.alihoffmann.com. Also, check out this video short Stunt Double that she stars in that was just uploaded last week. 

Ricky Marshall -  Ricky is an amazing actor who I had the joy of sharing the stage with at SJSU in the production, Of Mice and Men. When Ricky was in character - he did not break that character until completely off the set. In Of Mice and Men, he played Crooks, and I remember that even during set changes that he was still moving around in character. One of the nicest guys in theater I have ever met, Ricky deemed with the nickname "Shaq" since I seemed to show about as much excitement as Shaq when he would ask me a question.
Ricky Marshall
Ricky, who is a member of the Screen Actor's Guild,  recently finished filming  for the movie Against The Grain in which he plays a Street Thug. He will also be appearing in a YouTube series called "Cuffing Season" with fellow SJSU Alum, Maurice Hines. Check out Ricky's IMDB Page.  Also follow him on Twitter @kingrafique

Josh Marx - Talk about a presence on stage, I remember sharing many great moments with Mr. Joshua Marx. I remember many an after party drinking with Josh. He is a tall 6'3" and would stretch out his arms and say something like "Wes! Come here..." (and that was before the drinks!) Just an overall nice guy. He is the type of actor that I could see getting Knighted one day and be in the same class as Sir Ben Kingsley. I had the pleasure of sharing the stage at San Jose State with Josh for the production of Big Love.
Joshua Marx
Since the SJSU days, Josh has graduated from Rutgers University with his MFA. He recently directed his own immersive adaptation of Frankenstein called "The BEING." He also recently finished portraying Sir Andrew in Twelfth Night  at Mile Square Theatre in Hoboken, New Jersey. He now lives the dream of a New York actor.  Check out his website at at www.j-marx.com

Havish Ravipati - I met Havish at San Jose State also while working on the production Big Love. I see a lot of myself in Havish. He seemed like a shy guy in the beginning but then before long he is turning heads with one liners that nobody expected. 
Havish Ravipati
Havish has appeared now in numerous short films including "Goyin on the Roof" in which he plays a "Bar Thug." My favorite short that Havish is involved with is The Chick Magnet which also features my old buddy from the Easily Distracted Theatre , Jon Chapman. Jon was a terrific actor in his own right but sadly is no longer with us. I'm sure he would be excited to see all the work Havish has done since, as am I. Check out Havish's IMDB Page as well as his website:  www.havish-ravipati.com

Cecily Ryan-Trujillo - It is no understatement when I say that Cecily is one of the most amazing people I know. One of my favorite actresses from my time at San Jose State, I first worked with her when I was taking a costume class and had to help her change into different outfits offstage. Fortunately I didn't creep her out, and I would actually get to share the stage with her in the production of Big Love where she played the leading lady. 

Teaser Trailer for "Hunting Journey"

Cecily started her own production company called Black Gem Productions. Check out the website, here. The the project is a web series called "Hunting Journey" which debuts this month. So be sure you continue to check out the YouTube Channel and subscribe so you do not miss it when it debuts! Also, you can follow the Web Series on the "Hunting Journey" Facebook page. You can also check out Cecily's IMDB Page. I suggest also watching her in the feature film Cheer Up, Sam with her now husband, Daniel Trujillo. That is, if you can find a copy of it somewhere. 



As for me at the moment, I have come full circle in life as I am now currently living with my parents again. I am trying to find work in the Sacramento Area and relocate there. I will continue to do stand-up shows whether they are here or there.

Next weekend, I will be recording a podcast with 2 other SJSU Alums, Nick Ruiz and Lance Voellger. You can follow Nick on twitter @badhole1 and Lance as well @LVoellger. You can check out the website for their podcast at www.bedfellowspodcast.com