Tag Archive | Karleen Koen

A Busy Summer Gets Busier

Eddie Izzard

Every year I look forward to summer like a castaway watches for a ship on the horizon. I fantasize about all the rest I’ll get and all the writing I’ll get done. Not happening.

Instead of lazy days in a hammock, my schedule shifts into overdrive. I have more to do than at any other time of the year, and this summer is no exception.

On June 27 we continued the Kilgore family tradition of going to see Eddie Izzard as a family whenever he makes it to Texas. A few years ago we took our grown children to Dallas to see his performance. This year we lucked out because he came to Austin on his Force Majeure Tour. I’d had tickets for Bryan and me and our son and daughter for about three months. Unfortunately, our son had to cancel, so I was able to introduce Eddie to a friend who had never seen him before. She was suitably impressed, and a new Izzardette was born.

We happen to think he is the best stand-up comedian on the planet. His humor is educated and smart, much of it based on ancient history. Eddie Izzard maintains the Roman Empire fell because Latin was a silly language. By the time they conveyed how many barbarians were upon them (MCMXXXIVCCCCCXXIV), they were overrun.

Sometimes he talks about Bible stories. Eddie provides crackerjack impressions of James Mason as the Voice of God and Sean Connery as Noah. This year he added Liam Neeson, as Zeus, to his repertoire. We also had the distinction of witnessing his first sneeze during a routine. He seemed surprised, but no one in the audience was. Welcome to Austin, Eddie.

The very next day, first thing in the morning, I got ready and headed for photo (13)the Hyatt on Ladybird Lake for the Writers League of Texas Agents Conference. I got to introduce and assist Karleen Koen, one of my favorite writers and speakers. This year’s conference was sold out for the first time ever! Jeff Collins, the keynote speaker, was funny and fascinating, and, as always, I met some really interesting people.

If you’re a writer and have wondered if it is worth attending, I can tell you it is. This is my fourth conference, and I’m always impressed by the level of talented speakers and professional organization that goes into it.

While I was at the conference, my husband Bryan filled in for me in Georgetown. The San Gabriel Writers League had a booth at Hilltop Market, and Bryan delivered the canopy and fixings to the writers manning it. I love the way he steps in when I’m overbooked, never complaining and always efficient.

The Georgetown Animal Shelter was in attendance, as well. Between workshops I got a text from Bryan asking how I would feel about another dog. We already have three, but he attached a picture and a sad story about no one wanting this one because she’s eleven years old. Her 86-year-old daddy went into a nursing home, and Lexi had been at the Georgetown shelter for four weeks. I think he was already on his way home with her when he got my text, “Sure, I’m always up for another dog!” The man knows me.

So now we have four small dogs. I comfort myself with the thought that ifLexi you add all their weights together, you get one border collie. Lexi is totally at home, and the other dogs can’t even find anything about her worth a growl.

I’ve got a full dance card, and the cotillion ain’t over yet. Next in line will be the Writers League of Texas Writers Retreat in Alpine in August. I can’t wait: a week in one of my favorite places concentrating on writing. The part of heaven where they stash the writers probably looks a lot like this retreat; at least I hope so.

I can only hope all of you are as busy and having as much fun as I am this summer. If not, watch Eddie Izzard on YouTube and adopt a dog. That’s a start.




Channeling George Gobel

Lonesome George Gobel

Lonesome George Gobel

Did you ever have one of those weeks when the last thing you wanted to do was write something funny? Well, actually that was the next-to-last thing. The last was being pregnant. Possibilities and impossibilities aside, I’ve just waded through a very unfunny week and come out the other side.

Author Karleen Koen asked our Writers Retreat class to describe what our writing muse would look like if we had one. George Gobel immediately leapt into my mind and wouldn’t leave. If I had a writer’s muse, he would definitely look like Lonesome George.

For those of you only recently able to drink legally, Gobel was a television comedian during the Golden Age of that medium. His show ran from 1954 to 1960, and after that he was a regular on Hollywood Squares, a game show for quick-witted celebrities. Easy-going to the point of semi-coma, George was short, ordinary-looking, and sported a brush-cut flat-top, out of style even then. His beatific countenance concealed a dry, wicked, and thoroughly skewed sense of humor.

One of his comedic foils was his wife, the never-seen “Spooky Old Alice.” They were married over fifty years, and they died the same year. He liked to pretend he was a hen-pecked husband, but it was clear he was just in love.

Some of his famous quotes are: “If it weren’t for electricity, we’d all be watching television by candlelight.” “If you build a better mousetrap, you will catch better mice.” “I’ve never been drunk, but often I’ve been overserved.” And the classic, “Did you ever get the feeling that the world is a tuxedo and you’re a pair of brown shoes?” George Gobel taught me an appreciation for things that bring a smile to your face fifty years after you hear them the first time. He also taught me ordinary is funny. The harder you have to work to make something funny, the less funny it is.

So Lonesome George and I are out here on this deserted island together. I tell him about my most recent knee surgery, #3. I tell him #4 may be in the near future. He says, “You know, I’m as much of a fan of bi-lateral symmetry as anyone, but it seems to me if you have to have two knees, there should be some way to sync them, like electronics. You get one knee operated on, knock it against the other one, and hey-presto, they’re exactly the same.”

I say, “But then wouldn’t my surgeon be forced to drive a Mercedes with only two wheels?”

“No problem,” he counters. “He just tells his friends it’s a Segway.”

Some women might want to be marooned on a desert island with Hugh Grant or Daniel Craig. I’ll take Lonesome George every time. He’s a-Musing.