Friday, November 12, 2010

Call Me Puke

What a title! For a blog post or a book, that's gotta be one that grabs your attention. Call Me Puke, A Life on the Dirt Circuit is an autobiography by Mark Sieve, better known as "Puke" of the "Puke & Snot" comedy duo seen nationwide, mostly at Renaissance festivals. My family and I love to go the Ren Faires and have been to several in the US, Germany and England. But it wasn't until a couple of years ago, in 2008, when we visited the Colorado Renaissance festival near Larkspur for about the fourth time that we actually saw the Puke & Snot show. Unfortunately, later that year, Joe Kudla, who played "Snot" passed away, only a couple of weeks after we had seen the show. This year, my wife and kids went back to the festival and saw Puke & Snot once again, with a new "Snot" in play. They were lucky to have been a bit early to the show and lo and behold, Mark "Puke" Sieve sat down next to them and starting shooting the breeze. As a souvenir, because I couldn't attend, they brought home this book as a gift for me, autographed by the author. Cool!

This is a great little autobiography and, not surprisingly, won the Midwest Book Award. Mr. Sieve does not tell his life story in direct chronological order but rather mixes it with other, themed vignettes. He does a great job of being humble (but not overly so like some autobiographies that just make you want to...well, puke). We get to experience his life, from his early days working in his parents’ cinema, to his potential major league baseball career, and through his early days as a public school teacher. But always there was his love for performing comedy and getting the audience to laugh. Together with his partner, Joe, they carried the Puke & Snot show for about 35 years, usually on the "Dirt Circuit" as he calls it but elsewhere too...even Disney. Along the way they've met and worked with some memorable characters including some you've heard of like Penn & Teller who got their start in similar circumstances.  Mr. Sieve writes from a very personal point of view and it's never more heartbreaking than when he serves tribute to his long time partner.

Highly recommended.

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Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire