Ask Dr. Hal

Ask Dr. Hal

Odeon Bar, San Francisco • April 2, 2003

Light rain. A prime parking spot. Holes in the bottoms of my converse. Wet socks. Running across the street. Arrived at Odeon. Backwards sign. Nice bar. Carved squids on walls. Giant framed posters for SubGenius Devivals. Dr. Howland Owll. Funny desks on stage. TV’s and video projectors playing magic-related movies. Lord of the Rings. Mulholland Drive. 4 Rooms. A sign on the wall behind bar with description of “Hal Robins Martini”. Pabst Blue Ribbon and Olive.

I sat.

Piece of paper and small pencil; like the ones at miniature golf courses.

“Ask Dr. Hal. Sage of the Odeon Bar. Know-it-all. Gentleman. Available for parties. Have a question that can’t be answered? An unsolvable riddle? A torturous conundrum that cannot be solved by the likes of mere mortals? Well you’re in luck; Dr. Hal is no mere mortal. Bring it on, he shall answer all comers with aplomb! This week’s theme is …MAGIC! The who what when and where of the how. Or something… Chicken’s Favorite Questions of the evening gets a free shot of FERNET!

Step 1: Ask Dr. Hal your impossible question by writing it on a slip. (“Do you believe in magic?”)

Step 2: Include in your envelope a gratuity aligned with the difficulty of the question.

Step 3: Place your package humbly in the receptacle upon the Great Doctor’s Podium. (Next to where it says PLACE QUESTIONS HERE)

Step 4: Add your name and email address if you would like to be added to our Weakly List.”

Filled it out. Gratuity was a copy of Sir Millard Mulch’s The De-Evolution of Yasmine Bleeth EP. Wouldn’t fit in envelope. Awkward. Put stuff in receptacle. Waited.

Smoke rises from stage, lights dim. SNL excerpt from Man On The Moon Andy Kaufman Performance comes on through P.A. Announcer Chicken John warms up audience and Dr. Hal makes entrance.

Chicken John opens envelopes, reads questions and gives slips of paper to Dr. Hal for answer. Answers every question correctly except for one. KROB the musical accompanist answers it. Everyone cheers for KROB. Dr. Hal stuffs wads of money in drawer in desk. More lights and smoke. Nice props. Chicken John opens Sir Millard Mulch envelope. Gives CD to KROB to play. Sir Millard Mulch CDs have a nasty habit of going to the wrong person. Chicken John asks my question. Dr. Hal recognizes name of Sir Millard Mulch and answers question. Question and answer are top secret for now. Answer was sufficient. No one cares. The Mysteries of the Universe are Revealed to Morons, Pt. 1 comes through P.A. Still, no one cares.

Fabulous show. Fabulous bar. Nice people, some in costumes. Perhaps a crowd of 30, not bad. Bathroom with broken internal and external doors. Reminds me of days of Brownstone Sandwich Shop “Who Got Fingerprints All Over Darth Vader’s Helmet?” performances, but successful and well-done.

Chicken John says for everyone to exit The Odeon Bar and board the large ugly bus parked out front. He is taking us out for Ice Cream. I board the bus, sit down. Hal sits next to me. We chat. He agrees to appear on my new album. The bus won’t start. We start to smell smoke and gas fumes. Unfortunately, this was not another Great White incident. Everyone gets back off the bus. I go back in and chat with Hal and friends some more. I get a call from my girlfriend. She needs to be transported. Hal tells me, “Good luck with that project.”

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