On The Road With Dave

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Now Appearing in an Extended Engagement! Join Dave Robison as he takes you into his world and his daily life of reviving a stand-up comedy career. Prepare for side trips exploring Public Relations, marketing and business ethics. Enjoy some frequent detours describing his observations on life. Read the exploits of this self-proclaimed Renaissance-man and blooming blogger as you go On The Road With Dave.

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Name: Dave Robison
Location: Mobile, Alabama, United States

From Mobile, Alabama comes Dave Robison, a confessed Internet-aholic, middle-aged-married-man, who's generally a nice guy--he just has one or two issues. Stand-Up Comedy by Dave Robison is available for corporate events, college campuses, and nightclubs.

 

 

On The Road with Dave


Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Ryla Christmas Party


Last weekend, my wife and I boarded a Gulf Coast Tours charter bus at 7:30 in the morning and rode with 18 of my fellow Ryla Teleservices employees to the annual Christmas Party in Atlanta.

Ryla had accommodated their new division in Mobile, Alabama with a free ride to the party and discounted hotel rooms, so employees could enjoy the annual Christmas party with the regular attendees of so many years of the Kennesaw location. While some Mobile employees opted to drive their own vehicles, I took advantage of the free bus ride. The charter bus was as comfortable as most buses can be, with a friendly driver, DirectTV and a good DVD player and sound system. The driver made sure all passengers were comfortable and accepted requests for thermostat changes, music changes, and movie hosting as we drove the six hours in a mostly pouring rain up Interstate 65 and across Interstate 85. We made a stop in Montgomery, Alabama for a quick breakfast at McDonald's and a cigarette break and then continued on to Atlanta.

The city of Atlanta is a travel nemesis for yours truly. My first trip to Atlanta when I was 19 was a disaster. I got lost late at night and traveled along I-285 in endless circles and missed exits. Exits I took, became confusing mazes of inner city streets with dangers on every corner. Upon arriving back at my stay that long night; I slept and then the next morning packed my bags and went back to the little town of Caledonia, MS thoroughly defeated; vowing never to ever go back. The vow lasted over ten years and my next trip to Atlanta was a "clenched-hands-around-the-steering-wheel" trip as I conquered my fears and made my way to every intended destination with out incident. From that time on, each trip to Atlanta has been more comfortable, but always in the back of my mind, was the fear that the Interstate and Exit Monster would grab me and send me back into a "Land of Lostness".

On this trip, The Monster attacked our bus driver. He missed an I-85N exit and we began an hour journey trying to find our hotel. He maneuvered the large bus down tight streets giving us an unintended tour of Atlanta. We passed the CNN Building and the Aquarium, stopping once to shout out to a pedestrian for directions. The pedestrian had the appearance of someone who hardly knew where he was, let alone know where we were headed. At about this time, 10 of our fellow passengers had a quick-draw and fired up their Verizon Wireless Droids, AT&T iPhones and LG enV3 cell phones and began to access Google Maps, VZNavigator, and GPS turn-by-turn directions and began giving out directions to the bus driver. In another half hour, we pulled into the Waverly Renaissance Hotel. I hurriedly exited the bus, grabbed a cigarette, and slowly let my adrenalin and blood pressure decrease and my fingers finally unclenched. I had escaped The Monster once again, and the driver appeared unscathed from the ordeal.


The hotel was a fine Marriott facility appointed with typical luxury hotel decor--glass, marble, brass and gold. The atrium was decorated with Christmas trees, garland and lights. The atrium rose into the sky as the floors circled the area. We rode the glass elevators to the eighth floor where our room awaited.

Our room was an extremely nice King room made affordable by the discount the company received. Since it was just a week or so away from our anniversary, the wife and I wanted to enjoy a nice hotel room away from the teenagers for a night and the room was inviting upon arrival and seemed to say, "Hurry back from the party." We unpacked and hung up suit and party dress and dress shirt and performed the usual routine of laying out toiletries and emptying pockets and exploring the room's amenities. The only insult was the $6.00 bottle of FIJI water and the obnoxious price tag warning that if you break the seal, you would be charged...and the warning on the writing desk that a $250 dollar charge would be assessed for "recovery", if I lit up a cigarette in the non-smoking room.

While, Mrs. Robison lounged in the room, I headed back downstairs and outside into the cold, windy rain and lit up a cigarette in the smoking area outside the front of the hotel. I stood there with several other smokers; all complaining about it being too cold to smoke--yet we continued to smoke and talk.

After long hot showers, make-up and tie- straightening we headed to the Ryla Christmas Party at around 8PM looking quite fabulous and sexy. (Sorry, no photos--we had some camera problems; but take my word for it)The hotel had set up numerous food stations in the Mezzanine lobby serving sliced turkey and dressing, chicken tortellini with an Alfredo sauce or a sun-dried tomato base and southern fried boneless chicken breasts, all with appropriate vegetables and assorted breads and rolls.. The unique station was the Mashed Potato station serving mashed potatoes in a martini glass with a full compliment of cheeses, scallions, bacon, and other assorted toppings and sauces giving the eater a hot mashed potato "sundae." A cash bar sold some quite expensive drinks along with the free lemonade, coffee and tea. Six bucks for a Budweiser limited my "making merry".










As dinner progressed, Mark Wilson, President and Owner of Ryla Teleservices, and his wife gave out employee awards including a brand new 2009 Kia automobile. The automobile had been promoted over the last several months with other incentives for performance and employee longevity. Wilson spoke of the company's first smaller Christmas parties and how the company had grown in the last few years to needing the entire floor of the hotel to accommodate the crowd. After the dinner and desserts, (My wife sampled three cakes and I had the banana mousse pudding) the party began with dancing, drinking, and socializing. The DJ led the partyers with line dances, slides, and other reasons to go "low to flo'."

After talking with fellow employees and making a few trips back outside to the smoking area, we bidded everyone "Good night", and rode the elevators back up to our room. A simultaneous wedding party was also being held that evening and we could hear THAT party spilling out into the lobby during the night. Obviously, the alcohol was free for the wedding guests.

Sunday morning allowed us to sleep in until around 9AM, but our schedule had us leaving the hotel at 10:30 for a small tour of the Ryla company facilities and a pastry breakfast in nearby Kennesaw. It was nice to see the work conditions of my Georgia call center counterparts and get a feeling for the scope of business and other clients that Ryla serves along with our efforts back home in Mobile. We boarded the bus at around 12 and began our bus ride back home. The trip home was without incident, missed exits or appearances from The Atlanta Monster.

The weekend was nice. I hope that next year the company decides to host a Christmas party in Mobile for just the Mobile employees. More of our location's employee's would be able to attend at a lower cost without a hotel expenditure. But, if I have to travel back to Atlanta again; I'm ready. It could be next year's Christmas party or just another weekend trip...Bring it on, Monster!

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Georgia On My Mind

As Christmas approaches; corporations, small businesses, and organizations are celebrating the season with annual Christmas and Holiday office parties. Two such parties I know of this weekend include my employer's Christmas party and my wife's employer's Christmas party. In the past, I've always attended the annual Medi-stat Christmas party. My wife has been a long-time employee and for a few years it was also my employer. Medi-Stat's parties are always fun, but this year their annual Christmas party conflicts with my new employer's party.

So, how did we choose which one to attend?


Ryla Teleservices' annual Christmas party is in Atlanta at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel. That means an overnight stay in Atlanta at the hotel, with dinner and dancing. Travel out of town, you say? Okay, we're there!

This morning, we catch a free charter bus at the Saraland, Alabama division of Ryla and ride to Atlanta for the night. Since our anniversary is just shy of two weeks away, the wife and I plan to not only enjoy a party with some fellow employees and the upper management of the "home office"; but also make it a mini-anniversary celebration.

My wife bought a new dress, my suit is pressed, and the bags are packed. If I can snap a few non-proprietary, non-incriminating photos of fellow employees and friends at the party, I'll let you know how it turned out next week.

Until then, I'll still have Christmas...and Georgia on my mind.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Ugly Men List --I Must Be On It

Last week the website, Total Beauty came out with a list of the 8 cities in America with the Ugliest Men. It just so happens, I live in one of the cities and like all the other men in the cities on the list, I took a little bit of offense.

I decided to take a look at the website that condemned me to a life of "uglytude" and I'm not impressed with them either. Total Beauty says it has an audience of 12 million women and apparently the website thinks all of its readers need vast amounts of improvements. The site is not much more than pages of beauty cream ads, shampoo ads, and age defying cream ads interspersed with videos with titles like "How To Properly Pop A Pimple".

But before you think I'm just filled with sour grapes, the Ugly Men List was supposedly compiled using criteria that included more than superficial looks. The Ugly Men were ranked using obesity statistics, education levels, smoking, and dental statistics(bad teeth are ugly) as well as gym memberships. (Ugly men rarely work out)

If I had stayed in my original hometown in Mississippi, I would not have made the list, but I just had to up and move to the Number 5 Ugliest Man City in the Nation. I think that's unfair to my new hometown, they might not have made the list, except that they must have "bussed" in some ugly men along with me.

In case, you didn't see the article, here's Total Beauty's List and what they said about my city of Mobile, Alabama. I also included a few other quotes about two other cities on the list.


8. Houston Texas
7. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
6. Detroit, Michigan
5. Mobile, Alabama and Huntington, West Virginia (tie)

The men of Mobile and Huntington have it all -- terrible teeth, according to (a) worst-teeth cities list, a high rate of unhealthy, inactive and obese men and a paltry number of gyms.

4. Greensboro, North Carolina
3. Miami, Florida

You're thinking, 'Seriously? Miami?' And we're saying: yup. If for no other reason than a whopping 21 percent of men 25 and up didn't make it past 9th grade, the highest rate in the cities we studied. Oh, and did we mention gnarly teeth? And believe it or not, more than 27 percent of Miamians don't exercise regularly. Sure, they're not the fattest or unhealthiest in the country, but given the year-round gorgeous weather and huge number of gyms, you'd think these guys would be a little less-lazy.

2. Hagerstown, Md.

Less than 10 percent of the men in Hub City hold a bachelor's degree. They're not spending their spare time in gyms, either -- nearly 30 percent don't exercise regularly, 30 percent are obese, and an off-the-charts number of Hagerstownians smoke, compared to the rest of the country.

(Sorry Hagerstown...I once visited your city, too. I was smoking a cigarette when I visited. I guess my "ugly" got all over you, too.)

1. El Paso, Texas

We're not looking for Stephen Hawking level brain-age -- just a good, solid education. But nearly 15 percent of the dudes in this Lone Star city have less than a 9th grade education. The city also suffers from a notably high rate of obesity, 32 percent are in below average health and 30 percent do not exercise regularly, which is probably why there are so few gyms in town. There is such a thing as too much Tex-Mex.


But, I won't despair much about the Ugly Men List, because just last week I was complimented by a much younger woman who told me, "You are a pretty man". I was at first concerned by the word, "pretty", but she assured me she was definitely complimenting me. Another woman also told me that I had "beautiful eyes". So, my ego is not too shattered by living in a city labeled for having ugly male residents. On the other hand; I smoke, I don't have dental insurance and my teeth are not in great shape these days and I don't have a gym membership. Maybe, I deservedly need to be on the list

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Where Dave's Been?

For some time now, I have had a slight "man crush" on Chef, Traveler, and Writer Anthony Bourdain. Since my trip to Prague, whenever I write about a city or place I have visited, I have tried to write with more flair. Maybe someday, Tony will take notice and come see one of my gigs and possibly invite me to whatever favorite watering hole or diner he knows about in the city that we are in.

Photo Taken from Michael Ruhlman.Com

In the meantime, I found a great little travel map via Trip Advisor. You can "pin" all the places you've been, tag your favorites, offer advice on the places, and even mark where you wanna go in the future.

Take a look at my map and then go create your own. I'll be writing more about the places I visit...if we are in the same city at the same time--maybe you can invite me to your favorite "watering hole." Maybe Tony will see us both there.










I did a similar map from another source back in 2004 @
"Roads Dave's Been On..."

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Cruising On The Fowl River

I've lived in Mobile, Alabama almost 7 years now; and in that time I've experienced a lot of water. The kind of water that falls from the sky, the salty kind that you swim in at the beach; and I've driven over many a bridge that spans a muddy, lazy river, bayou, or the Mobile Bay. But in all that time, I have yet had the chance to experience being on a boat cruising one of those bodies of water. Last weekend gave me that experience.

A buddy of mine invited my wife and I to test ride a boat he had bought recently and we gladly accepted. The offer carried with it a warning that we might be part of a rowing crew if the engine did not perform as expected. I considered that just part of the expected adventure. I wasn't going to pass up the offer. Although Mobile, Alabama is considered a great "boating destination"; you can't really enjoy boating unless you:

A)Have money to afford a boat or

2)Know someone with a boat.

I was glad I knew someone with a boat.

Our little cruise was on Mobile's Fowl River. The river winds through Mobile County and splits to travel out into the Mississippi Sound on the West and into Mobile Bay on the east. We launched up from the mouth of the bay at Pelican Reef Marina. I had been pass the marina many times on Highway 193 in my previous job, that included driving all over the area, but until now I did not belong to the "club" of "boaters".

View Larger Map

Right away, let me say as soon as we launched the boat, I was having a good time. "Cap'n" Paul Glass, our host, opened the little boat up and we were speeding down the river at about 40 miles an hour! That seems really fast on the water. As we past other boats we encountered their wake and waves and our boat bounced and jumped over the waves with some fun, "butt-bruising", bumps. I felt sorry for my wife who had opted to sit forward in the boat on the floor in order to take photographs. Her small cushion she sat on seemed of little use on the jolts.

Cap'n Paul decided to take us by his family's old fishing camphouse to see how the old property was holding up and we pulled the boat up on the sandy shoreline to get out and take a look. Unfortunately, the boat encountered a small problem and would not restart. The battery was not holding a charge. Thankfully, cell phones are the norm these days and Paul called a cousin who lived down from the camphouse and he drove up to help us out. Renee and I volunteered to stay with the boat, while Paul and Cousin pulled out the battery and took it to charge and fetch back the portable charger/booster in case it was needed again. So, Renee and I were shipwrecked on the river for little over an hour.

We passed the time by wading in the cool water and silty sand and admiring the scenery. Renee found a shady spot to read a book and I encountered 10,000 snakes as I wandered the property. (Okay, I passed by a pile of leaves and tree limbs and heard something and saw something long and brown slither underneath. Whether it was one snake or 10,000 didn't matter to me...I headed back to the water's edge at the speed of "scared")

Paul returned with a fully charged battery and it appeared we would not have to row the boat after all. After the battery was re-installed, we cranked the boat and headed back out onto the water. We cruised the river and took in the sights.

We passed other boaters pulling water skiers, we passed people on jet skis, and we saw people sitting on their docks relaxing, enjoying a cold libation, or watching their kids swim. As we floated by other boats, the folks seemed friendly and smiled and waved. Obviously they assumed I was a member of the "boating club".




The scenery along the river was beautiful. Trees lined the shore broken up by magnificent manicured lawns, boat docks and high-dollar homes. I wondered about the jobs the residents had and how they afforded these estates on the water. There were older modest homes as well that looked well lived-in and obviously were some of the first homes along the water.


After speeding along the river for a while, Cap'n Paul piloted the boat into a "No-Wake" area of the river and we idled along the calm waters. The area was serene and the water was glass-like. We passed by Memories Fish Camp/Bait Shop/Convenience Store and, I'm not certain, but it may have been a Bar, too; and made our turnaround to head back down the river.

As we came back to the boat launch, Cap'n Paul decided to run past the the marina and take us just barely to the mouth of Mobile Bay. The change in the water and the boat's maneuverability was quite sudden. It was apparent our little boat did not want to venture much further into the bay and we made a slow turn back to the marina.

We were about 50 feet from the boat launch when our boat's engine died again. Our day's activities had used all the gas in the motor except some "old fuel" in the bottom of the tank. Our motor decided it did not like that fuel and quit drinking it. Luckily, Paul maneuvered us in to the boat launch by repeatedly turning the motor over and letting the momentum float us in to the launch area. Fellow boaters who were loading their boat back on its trailer gave us a hand by grabbing our hands from the dock and pulling us and the boat into position to lift it out of the water.

Our adventure over, we secured the boat to the trailer and headed back home. I forgot to reapply sunscreen during the day, so I sported a nasty sunburn/windburn on my face for the next days after the trip, but I had a great time and would gladly do it again.

It was nice to be a member of the "boater's club" for a day, and I'd welcome temporary membership on someone else's boat whenever asked.

For a complete detailed account of the Robison's Fowl River Trip, check out my wife, Renee's blog, "Boating On Fowl River" at See Mobile Alabama. And More photos for your viewing pleasure are at David Robison's Flickr.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

See Mobile, Alabama With Renee



The above lovely feet belong to my lovely wife. Those waves lapping over them are from the Gulf Coast waters of Dauphin Island Beach. A day at the beach is the subject of my lovely wife's first blog entry at "See Mobile Alabama".

After 5 years of putting up with a husband that blogs and lives on the Internet, Renee has decided to provide a service to vacationers, tourists, and local residents in Mobile, Alabama on the subject of "what is there to do here".

FROM "SEE MOBILE, ALABAMA"

"Since I moved to Mobile several years ago I have repeatedly heard the locals complain that they hate living here because there is nothing to do. Really? Nothing? I have lived in towns where there is truly nothing to do and Mobile is not one of them. I'm guessing that these people just don't know enough about our community to know where to go for fun....In fact, there's always something to do in Mobile and a lot of it won't cost you a dime. Join me as I give an honest critique of the best and worst of what the area has to offer for our entertainment."


Of course, you've already guessed, I'll be putting "See Mobile, Alabama" under my "Links That I Like".

Good Luck, Renee with your blogging efforts and one more thing..."It took you long enough!"

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

"Sunday Thoughts"



ATTICUS FINCH: LAWYER - HERO

"Lawyers, I suppose, were children once." These words of Charles Lamb
are the epigraph to Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, a novel about
childhood and about a great and noble lawyer, Atticus Finch. The legal
profession has in Atticus Finch, a lawyer-hero who knows how to see and to
tell the truth, knowing the price the community, which Atticus loves, will pay
for that truth. The legal profession has in Atticus Finch, a lawyer-hero who
knows how to use power and advantage for moral purposes, and who is
willing to stand alone as the conscience of the community. The legal
community has in Atticus Finch, a lawyer-hero who possesses the knowledge
and experience of a man, strengthened by the untainted insight of a child.

Children are the original and universal people of the world; it is only when
they are educated into hatreds and depravities that children become the
bigots, the cynics, the greedy, and the intolerant, and it is then that "there
hath passed away a glory from the earth." Atticus Finch challenges the legal
profession to shift the paradigm and make the child the father of the man in
dealing with the basic conflicts and struggles that permeate moral existence.

Symbolically, it is the legal profession that now sits in the jury box as
Atticus Finch concludes his argument to the jury: "In the name of God, do
your duty."

PLACED BY THE ALABAMA STATE BAR - 1997

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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Coming Monday--"To Kill A MockingBird" Trip

It's kinda late on a Saturday night but the wife and I made a trip today to Monroeville, Alabama, home of author, Harper Lee, of "To Kill A Mockingbird" fame. Another one of my infamous travelouges appears here Monday.

And tomorrow's "Sunday's Thoughts" features another photo from the trip--complete with the day's thought.


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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Southwest With A Beat

It's been over a month since she posted this, but thanks go to Amy Jo Kim for posting this.




The times I have flown SouthWest Airlines; I have liked their different approaches to putting a little personality with interacting with the passengers. And you'll notice that the flight attendant in the video is named, "David".

But no, I can't rap. I couldn't even come up with a title for this blog entry that used rap slang that didn't sound stupid, offensive, or both.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hanging With The Puppets

A friend on Facebook posted a photo of me at the Obchod loutkami (The Puppet Shop) in Prague from last year. I bought the little guy in the kilt. I think we resemble each other.(on a Saturday night)

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Memories Of Prague 2008

A year ago this week, I had the opportunity to fly to Prague, Czech Republic to
attend a conference for Alticor/Amway Corporation.

It's trip that will live in my memory for a long, long time. And despite being sick on the trip, I managed to remember a lot of details and wrote about them when I got back home.

The Chronicles Of Prague ran for several days here at On The Road With Dave, if you are new here, or just wanna go back down memory road with me once again, I encourage you to take a look.

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Friday Night In New Orleans

I know it's the new year, but I'm still stuck in the Christmas season of 2008. Specifically, I have more to say about my anniversary trip to New Orleans the weekend before Christmas.

You'll have to bear with me until I get it out of my system.

Our first night in the French Quarter was to be casual and relaxed, but we had specific plans. We made our usual walk around the Quarter, only during this time of the year, we listened to the street performers playing Christmas tunes, instead of jazz and blues. While walking in Jackson Square, the storefronts were decorated with red and green wreaths mixed in with the purple and gold colors of the Mardi Gras and the people walking the streets seemed just a bit more friendly than usual.

Our dinner plans led us to The Gumbo Shop. I had avoided the Gumbo Shop for many years and I was soon to find out that was a big mistake.

Why had I avoided it? Illogically, it was the name. In my mind, the name, "Gumbo Shop" seemed too cliche', too "touristy." Surely, it was named that just to bring in diners that were only familiar with the name, "gumbo" and its relation to New Orleans. I was stupid.

And to add insult to stupidity, I had been searching for the "perfect cup of Gumbo" for six years while living on the Gulf Coast. I had tried gumbo in every restaurant I had been in that offered the dish over those years. I was always disappointed. The concoction was always too spicy, too watery, or too tasteless.


And where did I find that perfect cup of crabmeat, shrimp, okra "stew" seasoned to an orgasmic splendor? At a place called the Gumbo Shop, where else?

In addition, to the gumbo, my wife and I enjoyed a half-loaf of hot, crispy French bread and butter. But that was just the appetizer.

"The Gumbo Shop" located at 630 Saint Peter Street offered a combination platter of three of New Orleans traditional dishes as an entree'. A Large platter containing Shrimp Creole, Jambalaya and Red Beans and Rice put my mind at ease that this place was anything but "touristy". If I had a complaint, it would only be that the Red Beans and Rice had a more pronounced smokey flavor than I was used to. I'm more used to a pol ska kielbasa sausage than the heavy smoked sausage used in the restaurant dish. It was a matter of my taste, and had nothing to do with the execution by the chef on his variation. I had no trouble with finishing my meal.

We declined the offer of dessert by the very attentive and friendly waiter who served us, merely because we ate our fill of the meal. I would recommend The Gumbo Shop for any tourist, or regular traveler to New Orleans.

After dinner, we "waddled and rolled" our bodies down the street to Pat O'Brien's Bar. Pat O's is another one of those tourist places that I had avoided, but this was a night to experience new things.


The bar has been a landmark in The Quarter since the 1930s serving up its most famous drink, "The Hurricane", served in a glass almost as big as the lamp that gives the glass its shape and name.

We sat in the gas-lamp and torch-lit courtyard as we watch the fountain waters rise from a gas flame. We listened to good music and we sipped our 4 ounces of rum mixed with 4 ounces of the fruity(think Hawaiian Punch)Hurricane mix.

It's a dangerous drink. You can down 4 shots of liquor more quickly than sipping sweet tea on a hot day. I noticed several empty glasses on many tables and only could imagine the condition those drinkers would be in later on Bourbon Street.

But I would not imagine for long, as we left Pat O'Brien's and headed onto Bourbon Street for a stroll among the good, clean, debauchery.

Bourbon Street has all the scenes you've seen in an episode of COPS:New Orleans or a "Girls Gone Wild" video. As I pointed to some revelers on a second-floor balcony of a club; an attractive lady completed a perfect "ringer" on my arm delivering a string of beads to me. She yelled along with me in mutual admiration of her feat.

At the end of Bourbon Street bordering Canal Street, we were treated to an impromptu dance party. A Street band was entertaining a small crowd standing in a circle and taking turns at taking the center stage to dance, to writhe, to booty-shake, and to two-step to the lively music. I was going to join the dancers and put them all to shame with my skills, but decided against the action. It would be better if I just took a photo of the moment.

We ended Friday night back at our starting point, The Hotel Montleone, and its very own Carousel Bar. For those that do not drink enough to make their heads spin, they can sit at the bar as it slowly rotates a full 360 degrees as the hour passes. I'm not sure how the bartender keeps track of his clients, as they slowly trade places along the bar's carousel track. Luckily for the heavy drinkers, the stools do not rise up and down like a carousel pony.

We did not end up at the hotel's bar, by accident or as a last resort. I had one more thing planned.


I had met The New Orleans Pianoman, John Autin, on MYspace and knew that he was a long-time fixture at The Carousel Bar. John plays a seven-foot Steinway with "sets" filled with Jazz, Blues, Rock, Funk, Standards, and Pop.

I had asked John via email for a small favor before we left for the weekend. He was only too happy to oblige. As we found a booth to sit in, I waved to John. He smiled.

Moments later, he announced to the crowd that a "young" couple was celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary in New Orleans and that it was his pleasure to sing "Their" song.

My wife and I danced to "It Had To Be You" as if Harry Connick, Jr. was covering the song in "When Harry Met Sally". We smiled, we laughed, we danced, we kissed.

It was the end of a very good first night in New Orleans.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Noel At The Hotel Monteleone / Part 2



Walking into our room on the fourth floor of The Hotel Monteleone brought back that relaxed feel that I had prior to our problems at check-in. We had stayed at the Monteleone several years ago before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and it was nice to see the grand hotel back in its finery after renovations. The balloon you see in the photo was from our co-workers who had thrown us a fine at-work party the day before. My wife insisted on bringing it along with us.

Once in the room, we did our standard unpacking routine; lay out the toiletries, hang clothing up in the closet to avoid wrinkling, and look at the room literature.

The room had all the amenities you'd expect; hairdryer, iron, ironing board, two fluffy long terry cloth robes, a large TV, an electronic room safe and the evil mini-bar fridge and pantry. No smoking is allowed in the hotel, even in the bar...so for smokers, you'll be taking numerous trips on the elevators to smoke outside the hotel on the sidewalk.

QUICK TRAVEL TIP: If you bring kids on a trip to the Monteleone, forbid them from even opening the Fridge or cabinet. Young children should be watched at all times. The mini-bar is electronic. Simply removing an item automatically charges you for the item whether you consume it or not. Quite the scam. I did not remove anything.

After we had settled in, it was time to take our trip's initial walk into the French Quarter. The Monteleone is located on Royal Street and is centrally located to all of the Quarter. But first, I had to do one thing.

A week before the trip, I had purchased a small emerald ring for my wife. She knew about it, but was forbidden to wear it until the trip. Over the week she had taken it out the box and admired it. A single square-cut emerald stone with two smaller ones on either side surrounded by diamond chips. Before you get all "Dave, did you win the lottery?" on me, let me say, it was a good deal, and the ring, although beautiful, is not something Tiffany's sells. But, my wife loves it.

Anyway, I took the ring out of its case and placed the anniversary gift on her finger and said some "gooshy" mushy stuff to her. It was time to venture out into the Quarter and continue on with our vacation.

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Noel at Hotel Monteleone / Part One

Just about every two months, my family gets the "New Orleans itch" and we make a drive over to the "Big Easy" for a day trip. We spend the day walking in The French Quarter--sweating, eating, shopping, and watching other tourists do the same thing. Although, the family and I consider New Orleans almost a second home rather than classifying ourselves as "tourists".

This past year we decided to buck the current trend of "staycations" due to high gasoline costs and drive to New Orleans for a night in a hotel, dinner, music and a mini 36 hour vacation. It was nice to head back to an air-conditioned hotel room at the end of a day instead of climbing back into a car with our bodies soaked in sweat for a two-hour drive back to Mobile, Alabama.

For my 25th wedding anniversary, I decided to take my wife back to New Orleans, sans kids, and spend not one night, but two, in one of New Orleans' most notable hotels and celebrate not only our anniversary, but the sights and sounds of the Christmas season in a city we both love.

You could visit New Orleans a hundred times and plan a hundred different itineraries and expected experiences...architect walks, antiquing, partying, voodoo, carriage rides, shopping, gambling, even museum experiences. Ordinarily, we would plan to wander the streets of the French Quarter and let the experiences come to us. This time, for this occasion we had an itinerary.


Our celebration/vacation would start at The Hotel Monteleone. The Monteleone Hotel began in 1886, and was started by Antonio Monteleone. Since 1886, four generations of Monteleones have dedicated themselves to making their hotel what it was and still is--a sparkling jewel in the heart of the French Quarter.

Quick Travel Tip--While the prestige exists to drive up to a fancy hotel and have a valet unload your luggage and drive your car to a parking garage, ready at your bidding; the $30.00 dollars a day to park on-site can be budget breaking. You can save almost $15.00 a day by parking in Central Parking off Canal Street and walk a short 4 blocks to the hotel. This also makes your car a convenient storage area and rest stop while walking in Jackson Square. Store some soft drinks in a cooler in you car trunk and save on snacks while exploring the Vieux Carre'.

We arrived at the hotel excited after a short walk and started to check in. This was to be a perfect weekend right up to the point we arrived at the desk. This story should be another "Quick Travel Tip"--but it's more of a rant, than a tip. You see, at this writing, the USA is in an economic recession, a credit crunch, businesses are going bankrupt and homeowners are losing their houses to foreclosure. Everyone is overextended on their credit cards. So why is it that a person paying cold, hard, CASH is discriminated against?

First, we had to use a friend's credit card to make reservations for our room. That wasn't much of a problem because we informed the reservations attendant on the phone that we would pay in cash, we merely were reserving the room with the card. Cash. "No problem," we were informed.

Second, What we were not informed of, was something called "Incidental Charges" This is a deposit one must make to cover incidental charges such as the "honor bar", towel theft, room service,phone calls, and such. I can understand this to a degree, and if you use a credit card, you can charge these things to your room during your stay, but Hotel Monteleone charges $60.00 a day for these incidentals. Right away, they wanted $120.00 out of our budget to sit in their coffers, in case we drank a Coke out of their outrageously expensive mini-fridge. I wasn't paying for it. I had not been informed to bring a $120 dollar cash deposit. I had not budgeted for it. I asked to see a manager.

I explained that I do not use a credit card. I did not bring a debit card. I brought cash. I had other plans, that did not include room service or Adult movies. What could be done? The manager and I settled on a $60.00 deposit. One night. If I abused any of their services the first night, then I would be charged and asked for the remaining 60 bucks. If not, the initial deposit would carry over to the next night. I decided I could live with that.

Deep breath. Calm down. Relax.

We received our room keycards and boarded the Bienville Street Elevators and rose to our floor. The Vacation could finally begin.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas In New Orleans

Just saying the name of the city brings to mind images of Mardi Gras, drunken parties, graveyards, bare-breasted women, voodoo, and in recent years; destruction, poverty, and a slow rebirth.

I've been to New Orleans, Louisiana dozens of times and each trip brings a new experience. I've yet to lose my awe of the city. You can cite murder rates, homelessness, graft, and point to examples of a city with a dichotomy between tourist fantasy and resident misery and still--New Orleans resists being placed in the "cynicism" category of my mind's attitude.

Last weekend, my wife and I started our 10-day Christmas vacation with a pre-anniversary celebration trip to our favorite city. The giddiness we still feel as we approach the city still amazes me. And then, no sooner than we park the car, the total relaxation that sweeps over me is likened to a drug. I breathe more deeply, smile more broadly and a spring is in my step as I put my feet down on the pavement of the French Quarter.

But this trip was to be different. I was celebrating history itself in the historic "Big Easy". I had been married 25 years. This was our second honeymoon. Yes, we had talked about a hundred places over the years to celebrate this occasion, but in the end, we chose our reliable, comfortable, New Orleans.

Christmas in New Orleans is special. Along Canal Street, Christmas decorations hung from the old lampposts. The Street Cars were clad in garland and wreaths. The shops were decorated in Christmas regalia along with the gaudy mix of Mardi Gras-inspired colors.

In The Quarter, speakers blared from the various stores and bars with traditional Christmas tunes, rock and roll, blues, and Christmas songs done with a Zydeco mix.

Along Royal Street, the street performers sang carols and played "Silent Night" on old trumpets and trombones. Your senses were bombarded as you are transported from a Victorian Dickens-esqe scene on one block and then swept back to present day as a street hawker invites you to come in to a bar and see the "beautiful ladies on stage". Of course, maybe that same street hawker lived a past life just down from Ebeneezer Scrooge's Counting House and barked those same words to Bob Cratchitt as he strolled home.

If you wanted a White Christmas, you would have been a week late. Prior to this particular weekend, New Orleans had received some rare snowfall of a few inches. But now, the weather was overcast and warm. Not the humid, sweaty heat of a "Big Easy" summer, but the kind of warm that people living in Michigan or Connecticut in the winter might envy. The temperature was around 70 degrees and a cool breeze blew through the alleyways. It was the kind of breeze that elicited an involuntary "ahhh" as it blew past you.

My next few entries here at "On The Road With Dave" will divulge more details of my Christmas In New Orleans. I hope you will join me as I re-live what my wife called our "perfect weekend".

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

"Sunday Thoughts"

"To get away from one's working environment is, in a sense, to get away from one's self; and this is often the chief advantage of travel and change."

--Charles Horton Cooley

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

On Vacation

I'm officially on vacation for ten days. I'll be in New Orleans until Sunday.
"Sunday Thoughts" feature will publish automatically and I'll let you know how my trip went on Monday with photos later on in the week.

Have a great weekend! I know I will.

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Friday, August 1, 2008

Being Tony Bourdain

Lately, I have become a huge fan of chef, traveler, author, and TV personality Anthony Bourdain. So much so that for the past week I have been trying to write about my most recent trip to New Orleans in a "travel writer" style. I know exactly what I want to say, but have no "fricken" clue how to write it.

Well, that's not exactly true; I write a bit of it and then get distracted or frustrated or tired. It's been a long week at my "day job" of doing things totally removed from the life of a travel writer or comedian or even a lowly blog writer; and after I have arrived home, it seems that the inspiration can't break through the fatigue.

But, now it's the weekend and I'll be finishing that travelogue, so keep a look out for it.

Also, for all my readers still interested in my opinions about Multi-level Marketing and Quixtar there's a new entry brewing for next week.

Stay tuned.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

"Sunday Thoughts"

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."

--Mark Twain

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

"Sunday Thoughts"

"In New Orleans I found the kind of freedom I’d always needed. And the shock of it against the Puritanism of my nature has given me a subject, a theme, which I’ve probably never ceased exploiting."


--Tennessee Williams

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Taking It Easy In The Big Easy

"There it is, a proper enough American city, and yet the tourist is apt to see more nuns and naked women than he ever saw before."

--Walker Percy





Don't look for me online, Saturday; cuz I'll be spending the night at an Historic hotel in New Orleans. Of course if you see me walking around the French Quarter, feel free to to stop me and and say "Howdy!"

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Smoking Moose

If you're interested in how my last stand-up comedy performance went; then go check out Comedy This Exit to read about my "Father's Day" weekend performance at The Smoking Moose in Anniston, Alabama.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

The IP Casino Has A Defender

Back in August of 2006, I wrote a scathing rant about the IP Casino and Resort in Biloxi, Mississippi. You may recall, "The Imperial Palace Casino Sucks!"

Today, I received another comment from an IP casino patron about his experience at the casino.

Anonymous said...

"I and my BOSS decided to have a father's day supper of crab legs and enjoy a bloody mary at the Palace this evening. Another customer complained about our language, and the manager along with three security guards acompanied us to the front door. This after paying $18.99 per plate for two buffets. I will never allow my money to inconvenience them again. Richard. Biloxi MS."

But, that comment did not spark today's entry at "On The Road With Dave"; somebody named Paco Hope did.

Paco gave his opinion about my experience at the IP Casino back in February 2008. I just discovered his blog entry today.

Paco wasn't exactly kind to my writing style, my rant, or my opinion about my experience. He felt, as another commenter at my original entry did, that I wanted to make trouble.

Paco summarizes:

"So, in summary, two points:

Set your expectations right. Mississippi is not Monte Carlo. Ten dollars in slots play does not get you James Bond treatment. If you show up to a popular restaurant on a Saturday night without a reservation, you will wait. Casino employees with shitty lives, shitty paychecks, and shitty jobs may actually be rude sometimes. Amazingly, some of these folks are really decent and rise above every excuse to be rude and are really pleasant. Still, if you catch one on a bad day, don’t be so shocked. It happens.

People deserve second chances, even when they do rude things. There was no value in berating or confronting that cashier. There is no value in boycotting a casino based on a single unpleasant night. There is no reason your wife deserved rude treatment just for asking a simple question. She deserved a second chance, and so does everybody else."


Paco makes his case, and I don't believe that he is a "nut-job", either; (he mentions that people who rant often come across as "nut-jobs" in his article).

Go read his blog, Paco Hope / Counter Rant: Imperial Palace.

I can take it.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

"Our Bodies" In Mobile, Alabama

Next month we celebrate Father's Day, but today I got my "Father's Day" present early.

For the last several months here in Mobile, Alabama at the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center; visitors have been fascinated by the "Our Body, The Universe" exhibit.

The traveling exhibit features Human specimens that have undergone the "plastination" process of preservation.

My daughter and I have talked about going to see the exhibit since it arrived in Alabama and it ends next weekend. She thought it would be a great early-Father's Day present to take me today to "oooh" and "ahhhh" over the exhibit.

Although some people may feel queasy at the sight of looking at cadavers and Human body parts carefully infused with a "wax" process and displayed in cross section, dissection and full view cutaways--I'd have to say the exhibit was fantastic and the exhibitors treat the "subjects" with a reverent dignity.



As I viewed the specimens there was no doubt I was looking at what was once a fully living breathing human being from China; but there was also a scientific detachment that allowed me to learn and explore the human body from the inside out and appreciate the universe that resides in each of us.

The Our Body exhibits are currently in Mobile, Alabama, San Antonio, Texas and Oklahoma City and will be in Wichita, Kansas soon.

Certain parts of the exhibit may be too intense for small children and people with religious sensitivities may find some of the specimens in the Human Reproductive System area offensive as they explain the stages of pregnancy.

I'd also recommend the IMAX film we watched at The Exploreum as well. "Wired To Win". is a great documentary explaining the processes of our Brain set upon the backdrop of riding with the Australian Biking Team on the Tour De France.

Thanks Erica, for a great day.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Historic Photos Of Mobile: A Review



I was born and reared in Mississippi; but for the last 6 years I have called Mobile, Alabama, home. Actually, I think of Mobile as "Home"; more so than where I grew up. I'm comfortable here, I belong here.

And I still have a fascination with the city...kinda like a tourist. I've talked to life-long natives of Mobile who have lost that sense of wonder at the historical sites of interest in the city, the events, the history that makes up Mobile. Luckily, I haven't reached that cynicism that comes with living somewhere for so long that you stop noticing the things in your city.

So, I was thrilled when I was contacted by Turner Publishing from Nashville asking me to review a book about my city, Mobile, Alabama. Turner publishes a series of books focusing on historical photos of different cities across the USA. These books are suitable for coffee tables, local business office waiting rooms, and for those houses where books are strategically placed for interior design purposes.

BUT... "Historic Photos Of Mobile" is worth picking up and reading. Residents of the Gulf Coast can look into their past and experience some rich history through the photographs and commentary inside the book. And you don't have to reside on the Gulf Coast to enjoy the photographs; the book arouses your curiosity about the city of history and makes you want to explore the city of today.




The book's content begins in 1870 and carries the reader or researcher through to 1979. One critique of the book is that it ends too soon and abruptly with 1979, with no explanation as to why. However, the book shines with its small stories tucked away in the captions of the photos. I learned of John Fowler, an inventor at the turn of the 20th century who built his own airplanes in Mobile, and may have superseded the Wright Brothers in flight. I saw what may be my boss's father on a Mardi Gras float in 1949, and I read about how a tunnel I travel through everyday was built.

"Historic Photos Of Mobile" was written and compiled by Carol Ellis and Scotty E. Kirkland, both Archivists at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. I had the chance to meet the authors at Bienville Books in Mobile last Friday for their book signing.



Many purchasers of the book, including myself, had a story to relate to the authors about a particular photograph in the book and the authors spoke at length asking as many questions as answering.



I did ask the authors about the ending of the book and was informed that the publishers stick to a particular style in the series and most of the books end similarly. I suppose as a city enters the 70s, it's considered less and less historically significant. I guess those modern photos will be significant in another 50 years or so.



If you are a history buff, a resident of the Gulf Coast, or someone that enjoys those bygone days of yesteryear; take a visit back in time with "Historic Photos Of Mobile"

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Monday, May 12, 2008

A Day At The "Hank"

It's Summer(almost) and for some that means baseball, hotdogs, and time with family.


I've lived in Mobile, Alabama for about 6 years now and almost every day I pass by Hank Aaron Stadium, home of the Mobile Bay Bears minor league baseball team. I often wondered what going to a game would be like; but I'm not a huge baseball fan, so other things to do always came up.

A few weeks ago, thanks to Harbor Communications, my wife received some complimentary tickets to a Bay Bears game and we decided to go catch a game.

The Bears used to be affiliated with the San Diego Padres; but in recent years are the Minor League team for the Arizona Diamond Backs. On this particular outing they were playing a series against the Mississippi Braves.

We arrived at the stadium and had VIP parking, but I honestly couldn't see a difference in our placement to the proximity of the stadium with any other parking; although I think the advantage was in exiting the park after a crowded game.

"The Hank" is family friendly and there is lots to do on the grounds of the stadium, even before you step inside. Playgrounds, including those air-filled Moon Bounce thingies that kids love, and even a mini-waterslide were available to entertain the kids not interested in baseball. I'll add here, that during the winter, the Stadium grounds is home to a snow machine for all those Gulf Coast kids that don't get to play in the snow normally.

We had the privilege of eating some free hot dogs at the Stadium Club, but the concession stands throughout the underside halls of the stadium were plentiful with pizza, burgers, nachos, lemonade and beer. All the necessary elements of enjoying the game. Of course, stadium food brings with it; stadium prices. I suppose this the necessary evil of enjoying the game.

Boredom was not an option at the game. Besides the action within the innings of play, there was numerous promotions, contests, and even a mini-Mardi Gras-style parade between innings. I chocked these contests and giveaways as "filler" for the radio broadcast commercial breaks.


I had read a review of the Stadium at Ball Park Reviews and the review had stated the seating and viewing limitations of the stadium, but I didn't witness anyone complaining. We had seats along the first base line just past the first baseman and on into the outfield. First baseman, Brandon James Burgess, quickly became our "favorite" player after he committed an error and then recovered for a fine game.

Foul ball catches excited the crowd and a few home runs got everybody to
their feet.

Our only problem during the game was a spectator several rows from us who had consumed an ample supply of beer before and during the game. I think I could have "booked" several bets with some fans around us on when the obnoxious spectator would have been punched, passed out, or asked to leave the grounds.

The Bears beat the Braves, 7-3, while we were there; and later went on to win the series.

My fanaticism for baseball is usually reserved for never missing an airing of "Field Of Dreams" and always crying at the end of the movie; but I could get used to attending a few games of The Mobile Bay Bears each season.

If you live close to the Gulf Coast, make a weekend of it and come see the Bay Bears play...you might even get close enough to catch a baseball, and get an autograph from someone that may play in the "Majors" in the future.

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Monday, May 5, 2008

What About Those Canadians?

Back on March 3rd, I was scheduled to meet with some computer programmers from Canada who were taking a road trip, via RV, across the southeast part of the United States.

These guys are bit more than just programmers. One is the company President of Fresh Books, Inc. The other two--executives with the company. A fourth guy accompanied them, but he was an Irishman and their chief videographer.

Their plan was to travel from one convention in Miami, Florida to another convention in Austin, Texas and stop along the way in eight other cities; meeting their clients and other "interesting" people. I was to be one of the interesting people. Along the way, they would blog about their adventures and shoot some video of who they met.

I held off blogging about the meeting because after we all met, talked, drank, and they shot some video--I was expecting them to cover the night on their blog first.

I suppose 4 guys in an RV after several days and a schedule to meet lost some of their enthusiasm for up-to-the-minute updates. Plus, I suspect that the "interview" they shot was less than stellar.

But, here's a quick recap just so you know I wasn't fibbing about the meeting.

The guys arrived at Felix's late. It was a bad weather night. Thunderstorms were forecasted and the weather guys were right.



Upon arrival I met Mike McDerment, the CEO but he was seriously distracted. The Gang had stopped for gas at some point and Mike had lost his wallet, credit cards, the whole she-bang. Throughout the evening he excused himself from the table and conversation to make numerous phone calls backtracking the miles and stops inquiring about a possibly found wallet. Also, I assume he made a few calls to the home office for options.

Before dinner, I advised the guys to try our local seafood and personal favorite, grilled grouper. There was some talk about my suggestion of the grouper with meuniere sauce.

The sauce with some creole origins sounds French, and it's one of those words I can't pronounce without it sounding like "manure" sauce. (Face it, you kinda pronounced it that way when you read the word, too) I told the guys it tasted a helluva lot better than the way I pronounced it. And they finally believed me.

Surprisingly, the big hit at dinner was a simple side vegetable that none of the Canadians had ever experienced. Turnip Greens.

Now, I know I grew up in the south and greens are a staple, but I don't like them and especially would not order them with seafood; but two of the fellas ordered them and ended up passing the bowl around to each other so all could try the leafy "goodness".

Eamonn O'Connor, the Irish guy, especially liked the greens and related a story about a similar dish he prepares for holiday dinners--although his slaw-like dish has a red tint; but a similar taste.

I connected with Eamonn early on in the evening, as he was a videographer with cool equipment. Part of my work experience was video production.

Dinner conversation was split among the guys with myself and one of their Mobile, Alabama clients, Michael Thornton of Art and Logic.

Saul Colt and I talked about Comedy and Stand-Up. Saul had a short career as a stand up comic in Toronto and rubbed shoulders with some big names during the stand up "hey day" of the 90s.

Sunir Shah talked "software" with Mike Thornton, although there was some discussion among us all, about Sunir's trepidation about being in the South with a bunch of electronic equipment crossing state borders in an RV and looking curiously non-Southern.

Mike McDerment and I talked about my then-impending trip to Prague and the phenomenon of blogging, as well as all the guys asked questions about Mobile, Alabama and the local culture, including avoiding or "riding out" hurricanes like Katrina.

Now, I'm proud of being a Southerner, but usually when I meet someone from "up North", I try to remember my voice lessons from Theatre school and I tend to tone down the Southern accent. My mistake with these guys was mentioning that I was trying hard not to use any Southern colloquialisms while speaking with them.

That must have been their cue to begin to badger me for expressions they could use. Their favorite of the evening was inspired by the thunderstorm outside. We were dining at Felix's Fishcamp and The Causeway over the Bay of Mobile. The parking lot had a few inches of water in it. They had heard "it's raining cats and dogs" but had never heard the expression; "It comin' a frog-floatin' gulley washer" I imagine Sunir might still be using the expression in Toronto.


After dinner, we found an empty banquet room just off from the lounge and the night's entertainment, and they interviewed Mike Thornton on how he utilizes the software created by FreshBooks.

My interview with Saul quickly degraded into swapping jokes, perfecting the "frog floating gulley washer" expression and generally goofing around. I'm sure no usable footage made it past the video camera.

I took this picture of the guys.


That's Eamonn O'Connor, Mike Thornton, Sunir Shah, and Saul Colt.

We wrapped up the evening and I gave the guys some travel tips for their next destination; which was New Orleans, and thanked them for dinner and the visit and then they were off into the night.

I know they survived and made it to their convention in Texas and then back home to Canada. I haven't heard from them since, but I like to imagine them sitting in front of their FreshBooks office building, sipping a fine Canadian beer, eating turnip greens, and saying things like "Ya'll it's cold out here, eh?







COMING TO MOBILE, ALABAMA? CHECK OUT FELIX'S MENU

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Chronicles Of Prague / Links

Hey, you wanna read all about my trip to Prague, but don't want to wade through the archives?

Here's ALL the links to ALL the stories I saw fit to print.

ON MY WAY

MEETING TEX

ARRIVING IN PRAGUE

THE BLOGGERS 5

MORNING OF PANEL DISCUSSION

THE QUESTIONS AT PRAGUE

PHOTOS, PHOTO, PHOTOS!

THE LAST NIGHT

GOING HOME WITH A DETOUR


It's great when you read it...in order; without commercial interruption.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Chronicles Of Prague / Part 9

GOING HOME WITH A DETOUR

I slept terribly, Wednesday night. The codeine cough syrup I had been using to quiet my cough had began to make me itch. It was a side effect I had experienced before. Usually I can live with it, but at the same time my bronchitis was worsening and the codeine wasn't even helping the cough. At about 3AM, I got up out of bed and decided that since I couldn't sleep, I might as well pack my bags.

By 4AM, I was tired and miserable--but if I went to sleep--would I wake up in time to check out and make it to the airport? I chanced it, and slept until around 5:30AM.

I was to meet "TEX" downstairs in the lobby for breakfast at 6AM. I carried my bags down, checked out, and received my deposit back. (I had to put up a $100 dollars deposit, because I didn't have a credit card to secure purchases from the mini bar or if I had decided to watch some hotel satellite porn) For the record I got back all my money, except the price of a Pepsi.





"Tex" and I had a nice breakfast and caught the shuttle to the airport. I have been telling the story, since I returned from Prague, that I saw Air Force Two( maybe One) at the Amsterdam Airport and now, as I write this, it might have been at the Prague Airport. I was told after I returned from my trip that Condoleezza Rice had been making a trip to the area.


Again a nice flight to Amsterdam. At the Amsterdam Airport, I said good-bye to Tex and began the long security check. I was randomly selected for a more extensive security check. No Rubber Gloves were involved but they did open my carry-on bag and wave a metal detector wand over me and pat me down. I passed the test.

Then it was 10 hours on board a way crowded flight to Memphis, TN. I'm sure that my fellow passengers were happy to land in Memphis, after listening to me cough the entire trip. I think I might have started a trend before the flight was over. I heard many others cough right along with me. Maybe, we were all suffering from the "Prague Blah"

But, me and my fellow flight mates were not just going to land in Memphis. We had the opportunity to land somewhere else first.

As our flight trajectory brought us near the USA and home, a passenger began experiencing a medical emergency. The pilot made that familiar announcement that you hear in the movies. "If there is a qualified medical professional on board we ask that you report to a flight attendant." or something to that effect.

About thirty minutes later, another announcement.

"We have a passenger experiencing signs of a heart attack, we are making an unscheduled stop in Toronto, Canada to assist the passenger. Please remain in your seats as medical personnel board the plane."

We land. We stay on the runway. Fire trucks, ambulances, and other official airport vehicles surround the plane and Paramedics board the plane. We sit. I cough.

Thirty minutes later, they wheel an elderly gentleman from the plane under oxygen and his "vacation" in Canada begins. The trucks leave. We are informed that our flight connections will be informed of the delay and that most of us should make our next leg of the trip in plenty of time.

And I do. I arrive in Memphis with about 45 minutes to spare. Just time enough to pass through Customs, receive my SECOND stamp in my Passport, and board my plane to "Sweet Home Alabama"

My lovely wife greeted me at the Mobile Airport with a hug and a kiss and a container filled with some cold Milo's Tea. (nectar of the Gods)

Unfortunately, my luggage had taken a side trip to Shreveport thanks to the Customs official in Memphis who I handed it to on my way to my flight.

"Mobile, right?" he said.

"Right." I said.

Undoubtedly, "Right" means send it somewhere else. So I didn't get my bags until the next day, but I was home. Who cares?


But, it bummed me out a bit, because I couldn't show off my handmade marionette to the family that night. He's a Scot, I bought him because I have some Scot in me and I think I may look a little like him after a few shots of Tequila.

Well folks, there you have it. The entire Prague, Czech Republic experience. Thanks for taking the trip again with me.

Thanks again to David Steadson, Bridgett, "Tex" and "Big Apple" for being a part of the Bloggers 5. Thank you, Rob Zeiger and Alticor Corporation for thinking I had something intelligent to say to your Staff. Thank you, Robin Luymes and Dino Baskovic for putting up with us, hosting us, and doing all that walking in the city with us.

It was a trip of a lifetime, and I'm glad I was "On The Road" to do it.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Chronicles Of Prague / Part 8

THE LAST NIGHT

After our walking tour of the city of Prague, we arrived back at the hotel cold, tired and hungry. I went and grabbed a quick shower and put my new Czech Republic marionette in my room.

Dinner was planned at a local pub/restaurant with all of the Bloggers 5, along with Dino Baskovic, Robin Luymes and Kate Makled. I spoke with Kate for a little while on the way to the restaurant. I found out her job consisted of "crisis management" public relations. A job description that I remarked probably kept her busy. Kate is directly under Rob Zeiger, the Director of Communications for Alticor. So she's a "big dog", and I felt honored that she decided to join us for dinner. And can I say? Dare I say?...yeah why not...she's a babe.

Dino had received a map of the restaurant's location and at the appropriate time, we began our trek to the restaurant. Bridgett and Kate opted for sensible shoes instead of "heels" to make the walk along the cobblestone streets. It was a smart decision. The streets are pretty and historic, but uneven and a bit treacherous in the dark.

I walked with Dino for a while since he had the map, but early on in the trip, Big Apple took over the job of leading us to the restaurant. Big Apple had been by the restaurant earlier in his tours of the city and was sure he could get us there. It was funny that the group divided up in different smaller groups as conversations changed throughout the walk. Someone would speed up to a group of three to get in on a chat; or slow down to a group of two to join in on a different conversation. It seemed to take a while of walking and a few twists and turns, but we arrived at the pub ready to eat.

I had seen on several menus at different places, a Czech favorite called, Pork Knee. Okay, maybe I'm not a world traveler, but I sorta thought that since the Czech Republic was "old country"; that a dish called Pork Knee was akin to a Southern favorite, "Ham Hocks", the lower portion of the pig leg. Ham Hocks are a tasty addition to soups and beans, not much meat but delicious "soul food".

I couldn't have been further from the truth. I had a mini roasted leg of pig that started right below where a "cut" of ham would begin. Smoked and roasted to perfection, served with a mustard and bread. I opted for some "French Fries" as well. The waitress looked annoyed at THAT selection of "side", but hell, it was on the menu and I like fries with my Pork Knee.

QUICK TRAVEL TIP: I didn't drink a lot of alcohol on this trip because I was on medication so I have to tell you about Coke and Pepsi in the Czech Republic. Cokes and Pepsis DO NOT taste the same as they do in Alabama. I read that it has to do with the water supply. In many countries Coke and Pepsi, while still maintaining a "coke" taste--still taste a bit "off". In my case, they had a "diet" aftertaste; a sweet, almost saccharine flavor. Not unpleasant enough to forgo ordering, but not quite the same as the USA.

I sat with Dino and Robin, and David Steadson closet to me. Dino and David talked "computers" for a while. Dino and I talked about stand up comedy and my experiences in comedy clubs. Robin was a great conversationalist with a wide variety of interests.

After dinner, we made our way back to the hotel. (It seemed faster this time) and we all hung out in the lobby.

I knew that Tex and I had an early flight out the next morning, but the conversations seemed to never come to an end. I took a quick picture with Robin, Dino and Kate. I remarked that I wanted a photo of me and the "corporate geeks". I think Bridgett thought I insulted them, but Dino had mentioned being a "geek" at dinner AND I use "corporate geeks" with affection.



ROBIN LUYMES, DAVE, KATE MAKLED, DINO BASKOVIC


After the corporate ge--ummm...folks left; the Bloggers 5 continued talking until late. We exchanged email addresses, took a few more photos and I eventually said good night.

My last night in Prague, Czech Republic couldn't have been better.






Pork Knee photo was taken from "Paul's Travel Pics"

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