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Readers Blog: Dobie Maxwell's 'Dented Can' Diary

Ripe For Harvest

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Monday November 12th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   I could use a day off, but who’s got time for that? There’s too much to do and too little time to do it. I feel like I need to do at least a little something every day even though I know I will never get to half of what I’d like to. Now it’s a matter of picking and choosing what’s truly important.

   Even though I’ve made some tremendous strides in the past few months, I still have mountains of work in front of me and that can be overwhelming if I let it. The key is not to stare up at those mountains, but focus on the tasks at hand. That’s fine in theory, but sometimes it just gets tiring.

   I toned it back for today, at least a little. I put some movies on in the background as I arranged and rearranged piles of paperwork I’d recently sorted from scattered sources. It’s a never ending process of shrinking piles and sorting things into categories and filtering out what I don’t need.

   The pile I focused on most of the day was my lifetime accumulation of comedy ideas. If I have managed to do one thing correctly it’s been diligently keeping track of my ideas. I may not have kept them in the same place, but I did manage to keep them throughout all of my many moves.

   They were randomly stored in different boxes for many years, and written on everything from torn out notebook pages to napkins to anything else I had around at the time – but at least I wrote my ideas down. Now, I’ve got a giant storehouse of fresh ‘new’ ideas I can use however I want.

   It’s like I willed myself a valuable gift decades ago, and I’m just collecting it now. I’m looking over ideas I started cataloging in 1985, and most of it I don’t remember. I know it’s me as it’s in my handwriting, but it’s as if it came from someone else’s brain. I have a whole new perspective, and I know exactly what ideas I can use now. The seeds I planted then have matured for harvest.

   It’ll take a while, but eventually I intend to compile what I can salvage into a book like George Carlin did with ‘Brain Droppings’. That was basically his accumulation of comedy notes put into book form, and there was such a glut remaining he was able to squeeze out two additional books.

   I won’t compare myself to George Carlin, but if I could come up with one that would be a fine accomplishment. I think Jerry Seinfeld did a similar project, and Woody Allen wrote three books of essays in the ‘70s. Standup comedy alone is not the only way to stretch the creative muscles.

   As I was sorting out my notes I watched all three ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ movies that were on one DVD. I’ve always loved the first one, as I find the Buford T. Justice sheriff character played by Jackie Gleason to be absolutely hilarious. To be able to go from Ralph Kramden to that guy is a real talent, and both characters still make me laugh today. I’d love to have one winner like that.

   I don’t think I’d ever seen the sequels before, and they were both pretty painful. Even Jackie’s presence didn’t save either one, but it was still fun to watch how bad they were. I learned from it and still managed to get some work done so that’s a win in my book. Forward progress is always a good thing, but once in a while it’s nice to just lay back and relax a little. This was pretty close.

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