I Steal From Myself

The headline pretty much says it all. When it comes to copping material from myself, I’m a repeat offender. What’s funny about it, is that I often don’t realize I’m doing it. For instance, in my newest book Comedy Album, there’s a poem towards the end called Happy Hour. What I didn’t realize until just recently was that Happy Hour was in a near-final version of a previous book of mine, Dark Glasses. That fact escaped me until I spent half an hour recently, paging through that marked-up draft of Dark Glasses.

It happens a lot where I really like a given poem but despite my best efforts it naturally separates itself from whatever it is I’m working on. Lucky for me, I often sympathize with these poems especially and – consciously or not – wind up creating new homes for them. As far as that goes, one of the first things I ever wrote – The Kitchen Sink, a truly unwieldy collection of gags and one-off jokes – is really the Rosetta Stone of my later works. It’s definitely a rough template of what was to come and many of the individual pieces it’s made up of later found their way into collections I’ve cobbled together.

Besides being unusual – a mutt of a collection, albeit one with at least some shaggy dog charm – The Kitchen Sink is also very rare. There are only two copies in the whole world. Even so, some would likely argue, that’s two too many (which also sounds like the title of a 90’s Rom-Com).

Radio Interview – Comedy Album

One of the hard parts about being an Indie author is…there are dozens of things which make being an Indie author difficult. For one thing, you are your own publicist. There’s no one in New York or Culver City making phone calls on your behalf. So the best you can do is the best you can do.

In this respect, I’ve already been pretty fortunate. A few days before Comedy Album was officially released, I was interviewed by Prairie Public Radio out of Fargo, North Dakota – about the book. It was one of those interviews where some chemistry occurred. The host, seasoned and erstwhile Doug Hamilton, seemed to find me amusing and I found his questions to be a) on point and b) also amusing. It was a fun chat. And if this is my high water mark in terms of promoting the book, I can walk away feeling alright.

If you have some time, please have a listen: https://news.prairiepublic.org/post/dan-hendricksons-comedy-album-nd-woman-year-susan-wefald.

A Few Words on Henry Rifle

My pen name was once Henry Rifle. It was a swell handle, one that rolled off the tongue real nicely. In addition to having a catchy ring to it, it’s also a real gun. According to Wikipedia, it was ‘the basis for the iconic Winchester rifle of the American Wild West.’ So I suppose there was at least a dash of romance to it too. But no matter how I feel about it now, it’s part of the package. It’s cooked into the stew.

All that being said, I did come by the handle somewhat honestly. After all, my bloodline is thick with Wild West gunfighters. First, there was Kid Vaseline. He was a mysterious fellow, one who…kept largely to himself. He was in one gunfight and one only, and, naturally, he lost (his gun slipped out of his hand).

His son picked up that gun, wiped it off and did his best to carry on the family tradition. But the fact of it was, he was sick a lot; a whole lot. Like his dad, he kept to himself. Which is how he acquired his nickname – Kid Quarantine.

Kid Quarantine’s son? His son was the last of the gunfighters in my family. Like his old man, he had a predisposition to catching colds. But by the time he came of age, the Old West had passed. So even though he was pretty handy with the steel, the chance to test his mettle never materialized. And so, just like that, The Tonsillitis Kid faded quietly into the history books.

And now you know…the rest of the story.

QR Code Blues

So this is my blog, and welcome to it if it was the QR code on the back cover of Comedy Album that brought you here. Welcome, too, if you simply drifted in from elsewhere in cyberspace. All are welcome here. Feel free to mingle.

If you did come here via that QR code gateway, make sure you drink plenty of water. All that dry humor…it can’t be healthy. Not for anyone.

As to what happens now or should happen now, that’s the confusing part. Am I writing/maintaining this blog for John Q./Sally J. Citizen, those brave few individuals that might check in here regularly OR am I writing for Comedy Album readers? I don’t know. It’s Monday, and I’m never at my best on Mondays. Or Tuesdays. Or Wednesdays, either, really. Thursdays are pretty good, though. So let’s table this debate until then, at least.

For now, here’s another number from Comedy Album.

A Few Last Thoughts on Comedy Album

If you know me, you know how ridiculous the title of this blog post is. Chances are, I’m barely even warmed up as far as talking about my new book – Comedy Album. But for now, let’s assume I’ll find a new angle quick enough and we’ll wrap this up real neat-like. Just know I will be turning the car around again and likely sooner rather than later.

Yesterday, or the day before, I said that Comedy Album was about not fitting in. But it actually goes a lot deeper than that. Comedy Album touches on my deeper feeling that everyone else on this world has some kind of…it’s like they came into it knowing things I didn’t know. They knew all the rules by heart before it even occurred to me that a game was in progress. And whereas they seemed to avoid every pitfall, I blundered into every single trap in my path, tripped every last tripwire.

So when I lead the book off with a poem like this, just know that there’s something to it. And it’s not a small thing, either. Know that it tells the story of everyone who has or has had feelings like the ones I’m so intimately familiar with; that feeling of not belonging. That feeling of standing firmly outside the circle. But also know that it’ s a book about realizing…maybe that’s not a bad thing. I mean, does it have to be? Maybe it’s a good thing. That’s what I want you to think about.

Comedy Album is for sale online (in print and e-versions) and can also be ordered through Cream and Amber bookstore in Hopkins, Minnesota.

More Thoughts on Comedy Album

I did my first interview yesterday – promoting Comedy Album. It was interesting. That’s a muscle I haven’t flexed in quite some time. All in all, I think it was fine? Did I hit all my marks? No. Was I at least in the general vicinity of those marks? For the most part, yes. But there are some things that will need tightening up, need to be improved upon.

Talking to the interviewer, Prairie Public Radio’s own Doug Hamilton, really had me thinking about what the book is about. And at the end of the day – and the start, and the middle – it’s a book about not fitting in. A book about wanting to connect with other people but being mostly in the dark as far as how to go about doing that.

In this collection, there are a lot of pieces about being different, not belonging. There’s also a lot of numbers about parties and trying to find ways to appear confident at such gatherings when you’re NOT confident; ways to appear suave when you’re (I’m) not the least bit suave. It’s a book about boundaries: how we build walls (or fences) ourselves and are forever trying to figure out a way get through the walls or fences others have built. If you ask me, that’s what Comedy Album is about. That’s at least a fair part of it.

Minneapolis Writer Releases Comedy Album – in Print

Minneapolis, MNSeptember 24, 2020 – Local writer Dan Hendrickson has released a comedy album, but not on vinyl. Instead, he’s transplanted the format to the printed page in Comedy Album, his newest collection of comedic verse. In the recent past, Hendrickson has sometimes referred to his genre as ‘cometry’ (a souped-up blend of comedy and poetry). However, he says Comedy Album is exactly what it claims to be: straight-up comedy. It’s designed to be funny; a blast of seltzer direct to the kisser.

“Comedy is all about timing,” says Hendrickson, “and while some might say now is the perfect time for such an offering, others would be very quick to say, ‘No, Dan, that’s a really terrible idea.’ Those two points of view and where I’m at form a nearly perfect triangle.”

Professionally, Hendrickson served as spokesperson for a historic, local nonprofit for nearly a decade. However, when that came to an end, he fully embraced his lifelong passion: comedy. Despite today’s myriad and ever-present uncertainties, Hendrickson – in true showbiz fashion – says the show must go on, arguing that comedy is an essential ingredient when it comes to enjoying life.

Often absurd, Comedy Album revolves around lobsters, lemons, libido, and trout – though not necessarily in that order. It also contains callbacks and running gags, and its design and layout all lend it the look and feel of an actual comedy album. And, like many comedy albums, the material is intended for mature audiences (language, adult themes and subject matter).

“A lot of people write a lot of terrific books for children,” observes Hendrickson. “I’m just not one of those people.”

Comedy Album follows on the heels of 2017’s Dark Glasses. Hendrickson has also penned a series of chapbooks under his pen name, Henry Rifle, including: Shooting Gallery; Bullet Train; A Bullet West; and Ballistics Report. He also wrote and co-produced an independent movie called Henry Rifle is Dead. Additionally, Hendrickson has dabbled in standup comedy on various stages around the Twin Cities over the years.

“It’s something I can do,” says Hendrickson, “but I tend to consider myself more of a dancing bear that’s too lazy to perform. This way, my work still gets out there and I can stay home and watch television.”

Comedy Album’s formal release date is September 30. Published and designed by Flat Sole Studio in St. Paul, it is currently available for purchase online, in both hard copy and e-book formats, and locally at Cream and Amber in downtown Hopkins.

About Dan Hendrickson: A comic, screenwriter and poet, Dan Hendrickson grew up in Northwest, Minnesota, graduating from the University of North Dakota with a degree in Communications. Later, he earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University in St. Paul. He’s co-writer of the screen adaptation of Did I Ever Thank You, Sister and has also written a semi-autobiographical spec script titled Life in a Northern Town. Dan has been a guest on KFAI’s Write On! Radio and Prairie Public Radio’s Main Street. He currently resides in Minneapolis.

Chasing Shadows

The other night, right before I drifted off to sleep, I had an idea for a poem. I really, really liked it. I tried my best to remember it, but when I woke up later, in the middle of the night, I found that it had escaped me. I simply could not remember it. So the question became, What do I do about it? Every fiber of my being wanted to drift back off to sleep. But I also felt the idea was still there, somewhere inside of me.

First, a quick note about that part of me that pops out just before I lose consciousness. It’s kind of like a malcontent that spends most of the day behind a convenience store, smoking cigarettes. It has things to say, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like saying them. Still, every now and again, after lights out and before the lights go out completely, it wanders out to have a look. Maybe to stretch its legs a bit – clear its/his throat. It’s a small, but interesting piece of me.

Anyway, back to my story. Instead of going back to sleep, I decided to stay up for a bit and allow myself to drift back into that tranced-out state. And you know what? This time, it worked (it doesn’t always). Here’s that poem that I was chasing.

Pistachio – Time buries us in sand/We’re all just future clams/Death is a pearl collector.

Was any of it worth it? I don’t know. You tell me.

The Perils of Tightrope Walking

I’m not sure if you’ve seen the movie The Walk. If not, you really should. It’s a fictionalized account of the life of the guy who walked on a tightrope between the Twin Towers. It’s a really inspiring flick – entertaining, to boot!

My favorite character in the film is Papa Rudy. Papa Rudy is Phillipe Petit’s mentor. He’s a wise, old circus hand who knows all the ins and outs of tightrope walking. One day, while observing Petit (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) almost fall just a few steps from the safety of the platform – on the far side of his walk (it’s a training session, under the Big Top) – he pulls him aside and Papa Rudy tells Petit (still played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) that most wire-walkers fall just three steps from their intended goal. And they fall because they believe they’ve made it and can therefore let their concentration lapse.

Why do I bring this up? Well, first, there was a time when I tried to get my friends and family to call me ‘Papa Rudy.’ But they wouldn’t do it. Everyone just kept telling me to go f*** myself. Second, it touches on my DIY mentality as far as getting books out on the market. For even though I work with a top-flight independent press (Flat Sole Studio, out of St. Paul, MN), I’m responsible for all the editing that goes into my books. And this time around, with Comedy Album, an error (a typo) was missed just steps from my goal. It’s since been corrected and only 100+ copies of the book will be printed with this typo intact. But, just as Papa Rudy warned, I let my guard down. Forgive me, Papa Rudy!

I won’t tell you what or where the error is, but I will tell you that these copies will likely be worth a lot more than the books without this error. Whereas corrected copies of Comedy Album will one day likely settle out at $1 per copy (at garage sales and such), the version with this typo will likely go for $1.25. Maybe even $1.50. It’s a lot like that stamp that was printed upside down all those years ago. The retail price of that stamp was $.24 cents! Now it’s worth an estimated $1.59 million dollars!! In the words of Yakov Smirnov, “What a country.”

Thoughts on Comedy Album

I’ve written this book (the e-version of which is available now; hard copies later in September) called Comedy Album. How do I feel about it? How do I feel about it…? I feel pretty good about it. I guess it’s like Luke in the cockpit of his X-Wing Fighter, right after firing his shot at the Death Star’s core. I’m not in any way saying I was using the force, but I am saying I’m trusting the process. When the book started falling into place, it felt right. And though I won’t be able to fully judge it until it’s in my hands, I’m not waiting around on pins and needles. It is what it is and it’s as good as it can be.

As recently as five years ago, I would have been sweating what I wrote in my last post (see my last post); that I wanted Comedy Album to be my Nevermind. But you know what? I’ve worried enough to last at least five lifetimes. If I’m wrong, it will just be another mistake to throw on the pile. If I happen to be right, well, that would be a nice thing. But if YOU want to worry about what I wrote in my last post, feel free to do so. If you need any pointers on worrying, let me know. I’d be happy to walk you through it.