Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fail 2.0

Yesterday was a thrilling day filled with music, laughter, tasty food, and unimaginable personal humiliation.

Steve and I were busy with two performances. Our first gig was at St. Joseph's Hospital in Nashua. The hospital has occasional community outreach programs to let people know that you don't need to wait until you are desperately ill and coughing up internal organs to come to the hospital. You can come for some family fun, too.

After the hospital show, Steve had to grab some milk at the store. True fact: Even Rock & Roll superstars like Steve Blunt like a tall glass of milk now and then. As we were exiting the grocery store, we passed a beautiful young lady entering the store. She saw me and her eyes lit up and she stopped and gave me an effusive greeting. "Hey! How are you?" she asked. Steve was very impressed that I was being greeted by such a lovely young lady.

I totally panicked. I didn't recognize her and I mentally scrambled for a few desperate seconds trying to place her and not wind up looking completely foolish. I failed.

I feel that I must offer some feeble excuses and explanations for what happened next.

Excuse #1 - I was with Steve, at an unfamiliar grocery store in Nashua. I was out of my element.

Excuse #2 - When I'm with Steve, we tend to talk a lot about visits and performances we have done. From that mindset, I assumed that she was a teacher at one of the many schools I have visited. It happens on rare occasions that people will come up to me in public places and say hi, explaining that I had visited their school. It's always flattering, but I visit a lot of school. Try as I might, I can't remember everyone.

Excuse #3 - I am a dork.

She continued to chat amiably and comfortably for a few more gut wrenching seconds. When it finally became clear to me that I was not going to be able to figure out who she was in time to save any shred of self-respect, I broke down and said, "I'm so sorry. You're going to have to help me out. Where do I know you from?"

She stared at me, aghast. She cocked a hip to one side and gave me an incredulous look. "You've got to be kidding," she said, "I'm related to you."

Excuse #4 - It has been quite some time since I've seen my cousin, Christine.

So, the beautiful young lady was my cousin. I got it then, and I feel the need to emphasize the excuses I put forth before. I had not seen her in some time. I have been old and ugly for a long time, but these kids grow up and change and, doggonit, it's hard to recognize them sometimes.
She was not in her usual habitat (so, really, as she was not in a place where I expected to see her, she should have worn a name tag that said "Hello, I'm Marty's cousin, Christine.")

So, properly humiliated, I introduced her to Steve - who, I might mention, thought this amazing social gaffe on my part was one of the funniest things he's ever seen - and we chatted for a few more minutes and went our separate ways.

Steve and I drove off to his house where we ate sandwiches and contemplated what a total bozo I am and whether Christine might ever be able to forgive me. The sandwiches were tasty, but the forgiveness is still somewhat up in the air.

Our next big show for the day was at WERS, the radio station at Emerson College in Boston. with the taste of sandwich and humiliation still in my mouth, we drove down to the studios and started setting up.

Last year, Steve invited me to perform on the same radio show and it was a lot of fun. We were to be on the air for about 15 minutes, during which we would play a few songs and shamelessly promote our music, books, and upcoming events. While we were setting up and doing sound checks, one of the students who run the station came up to me with a paper and a pen. "You've got to read this and sign it, please," he said.

It was a sort of contract, assuring the station that I would not use any foul language while on the air. Considering that we were on a family show called "The Playground", and cutting loose with a barrage of obscenity would be a sure invitation to commercial and professional suicide, the contract seemed somewhat superfluous.

My favorite part of the contract was that fact that it not only warned against foul language, it provided dozens and dozens of specific examples of unacceptable vocabulary. The scope and specificity of the list was breathtaking. As a result, the contract I was was signing to prevent me from using obscenities, was full of more foul language than any printed document I have ever seen in my life. It had words, phrases, and combinations of words and phrases so exotic that they seemed to be a foreign language at times. It was really a good read and I should have asked for a copy, but I didn't think of it in time.

After we had assured the lawyers that we had no intention of filling the airwaves with naughty words, the host of the show, Andy, came into the studio and we went on the air. We chatted for a few minutes then went into our first song. Steve, I have mentioned in previous posts, likes to keep me on my toes by adding new songs to our sets mid-show and changing songs during performances. Things were rolling smoothly during our first song, Steve was strumming and singing, and I was banging on the djembe drum. As we neared the end of the song, Steve evidently decided that things were too easy for me and I was having too much fun. He made the executive decision to change the ending of the song. As a result, he suddenly stopped playing while my drumming continued for a measure or two until I realized that the song had ended.
"Hey, nice ending, there, Marty." Steve pointed out.

I was sad that I had signed the language contract then, because it had given me much verbal ammunition that I could have fired at Steve at that point. "Ha. Ha." I laughed, "I was having so much fun, I didn't want it to end."

After the show, we scorched our digestive tracts with some delicious Indian food and made our way homeward. Our next gig together is also in Boston. We'll be at the Read and Romp on November 14th. If you see us, come up and say hello.

If you are related to me or are someone I should know, please wear a nametag.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Listen TONIGHT!!

My buddy Steve Blunt invited me down to Boston tonight. We're going to play a few songs on WERS (88.9 fm) at 6:00.
You should listen because there is always the thrilling possibility that I'll goof up a song live on the radio.

Stay tuned!

Friday, October 23, 2009

And the winners are...

Yeah. So the teeming millions I was hoping might swarm the bookstores to compliment my hair did not materialize. In fact, of all the people who did come, only one knew the secret phrase. One other lucky contestant sent in an absentee compliment so effusive that I couldn't resist.
Seriously. That's a lot of work.
So I've decided that there will be two winners.

Oddly, they are Oliver and Olivia. What are the chances?

Thanks for playing. Your books are on the way.

Remember - now you need to send pictures of the winners gloating and reveling in their glory.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

And now a word from our sponsor: ME.

You know that extra cash you have lying around in great heaping piles all over your house? It's a pain.
I know that.
And I want to help.
If you have always wondered what you or a loved one would look like as a famous piece of art, here's your chance to find out. I'll be happy to do one of these drawings in exchange for some of that messy, ugly cash that's cluttering up your house. These can be hung neatly on the wall, so you won't even trip over them. They can also be used as gifts for loved ones or very fancy place mats.
I do pencil and watercolor portraits. There are lots of examples on my website. You can contact me for more information or to get in line for one of these.

This drawing is my pal Soup. She hasn't even seen the real drawing, but just knowing that the drawing exists makes her a much happier person.*

*I have no idea if this is true. I'll check with Soupy and let you know.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


It finally happened.

I failed. Big time.

Look closely at the post just before this one. You will notice that it says I will be at Gibson's Books in Concord for a book signing at 3:00 pm. On my calendar in my studio, it says I will be there at 3:00 pm. On our calendar in the kitchen, it says I will be there at 3:00 pm.

The thing is, the book signing was at 10:00 this morning, while I was busy watching my son's soccer team lose.

I got home to a slightly urgent sounding message from Deb, the event coordinator at Gibson's saying that she hoped I was on my way.

Only, I wasn't.

Of course, the only option available to me was to panic. I did that brilliantly.

I called Deb and explained that I was a bonehead. She did not argue the point, but was so polite and gracious that it made me feel even worse. She said that there were books that people had bought, eagerly anticipating that I would sign them, thus making them worthy of hawking on EBay. She asked if I had some time next week to stop by and sign the books.

45 minutes later, I was at Gibson's signing books and apologizing excessively and effusively. Deb was still unfailingly polite. I'd like to tell myself that it was only a thin veneer of politeness and the fact that she was at work that kept her from twisting my head off, but I don't believe that. She is just a genuinely nice person, and I am a dope.

I brought along a framed original painting from Winter Woes for the store as a small gift of apology, but I still feel like a chump.

To make the whole thing worse, this was slated to be an event with myself and another author and another illustrator. When we originally set the date, we agreed on a date and time after a flurry of emails. Deb contacted me a few days later and said that she was looking at my website and it appeared that I was already booked someplace else on the date and time we had agreed to.

Um. Yeah. Bonehead.

So we all had to scramble and reschedule, because I goofed.

And then, after all that, I didn't even show up.

So. You know... I have another book signing at the Toadstool in Milford on October 17th at 4:00. Or is it 10:00?

(Note to self - it is 4:00)

I'll try to be there.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Win Some of My Stuff

I'm trying something new.
Something devious.
Something nefarious and underhanded and duplicitous.

Perhaps my thesaurus got the better of me there. I am going to try something new, however.

I have a couple book signings looming in the immediate future. I will be at Gibson's Books in Concord, NH on Saturday Oct. 10th at 3:00 pm and at the Toadstool Bookstore in Milford, NH on Saturday Oct. 17th at 4:00 pm.
I would dearly love for them to be incredibly well attended and to that end I am offering up an opportunity to win some of my personal stuff.

Not personal like underpants. That's nasty and, most likely, illegal.

What I had in mind was a chance to win one of my books. I'm going to make this really easy, but it's only available to you, lucky readers of my blog. I suppose you need to reap some sort of benefit from slogging through all these words I splash about up here.

So here's the deal: My Contest. My Rules.

To win a copy of one of my books or a CD (your choice) you must:

1. Come to one of the booksignings mentioned above.
2. See me at the book signing and announce, in a clear and ringing voice, "Gee, your hair looks terrific, Marty Kelley."
3. Give me your name and address (so I can mail you the book or CD if you win).
4. Promise to send me a picture of you, with your prize, that I can post here so that everyone will be really jealous of you and you can make your friends think you're famous or something.

That's it.

Good luck.

Now I Must Be Wicked Famous

This is a very short one. Just wanted to place the biggest link ever made to a great article that Sarah Earle wrote about me in last Sunday's Concord Monitor.
Thanks Sarah!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Come Give Me Your Money

I can't think of a better way for you to spend your Saturday than by swinging by The Toadstool Bookshop in Keene to visit me tomorrow afternoon.

I'll be signing copies of my books and you can buy dozens of copies and re-sell them on E Bay and make a fortune. I ask only that if you do, in fact, make a fortune, you remember me and buy me some cookies or a new car something.

I'll be there at 2:00. You'll recognize me because I will be the only guy not getting in trouble for writing in books.

Come on down. And don't forget those cookies...