Archive for December, 2010

Nash’s Unexpected Vet Visit

December 25, 2010

I never like waking up, but Thursday morning, was the worst way to wake up in the history of the world, as I woke up to Nash having diarrhea in the apartment. At least he kept it by the front door. I got him outside and of course Nash didn’t have to go anymore. We get back to the apartment, and Nash was not his regular Nashiness, as he didn’t want to eat anything or drink any water. He just went right to his bed to lay down. I had a lot of work to get done, as we had just gotten back to NYC a day ago, and I knew that holiday was coming up so everyone would be gone for the week. I kept a close eye on Nash, which is hard to do when you are blind. Around 1030, Nash came over and laid on my feet. I was thinking he was on his way back to being Nashy, boy I couldn’t be more wrong. Shortly, there after, Nash got up did a little walk, then I heard the wretching, and Nash threw up on the floor. Oh, poor little Nashy, what did you get your nose into. As I was cleaning up the vomit, Nash went into the kitchen, and then I heard it, more diarrhea. This is when I started to get a little freaked, as Nash had never gone in the apartment, and now it was twice in one day, along with vomit. I got him outside, and he had more diarrhea. You see Nash this is why you don’t eat things off the streets of NYC. I had to run to Duane Reade to pick up more paper towels and garbage bags. When we got back to the apartment, I put Nash on his tie down, as I didn’t want him to go to the bathroom again in my bed or anything, because knowing me, I would have to throw the bed out. I got the apartment cleaned up, and then called the Animal Medical Center to see what they had to say. I thought they would suggest waiting 24 hours to see how Nash was doing, but they suggested I bring him in, better to be safe than sorry. We gathered our things, and flagged down a cab, as I thought it would be best to keep Nash’s work to a minimum until I knew what was wrong with him, plus I didn’t want him having an accident on a long cross town bus ride. We got to the AMC, and met with the first available vet, as I thought it would be best to just get Nash seen. She ran her hands over Nash and was able to tell that his stomach was looser than it should be, but she said he is not in any pain. I said, strange, my doctor has to ask me if this hurts when he pushes on me, you must be really good if Nash didn’t even answer. They took Nash in the back to take some blood, and do some x-rays to make sure there wasn’t anything blocking him, or life threatning going on. Yes, I was nervous as they had Nash in the back, as I have an over active imagination, and I had a bunch of crazy thoughts running through my head. I was hoping that when they returned, Nash would come running through the door to me, like he normally does at the vet, as that would mean he was back on his way to being Nashy. I waited and waited, and my mind had some terrible thoughts going through it, when the door opened, and Nash came running right up to me, and started running around the room. Ah, relief. Ends up the vet thought he got his nose into something he shouldn’t have. She gave Nash a doggy IV, a little thing they put on his back which gives him his fluids back as he was quite dehydrated. She suggested a special diet of food along with some pills for potentially the next six days, but I would be able to stop if Nash was feeling better. I have to give a major shout out to the AMC as Nash got an appointment right away and was seen as soon as we got there. If only my doctor could learn from the AMC.

 

As soon as we left the AMC, I could tell that Nash was feeling a lot better, as he was back to sniffing everything around and trying to eat everything in sight. Now the fun part, trying to get a cab back on a frigid NYC day. We were on York Ave., and freezing our ass off trying to flag down a cab. Finally one stopped, and the second it did, the car behind it began honking and the cab took off. What an asshole. I guess it was still two days before Christmas, so people could still be assholes. We waited a little longer, but had no luck on York getting a cab, so we headed over to First Ave. Again, we waited and waited and waited, and no cab. Finally, a nice little older woman comes up to us and says, “I can believe all the people that have been stealing cabs from you!” I knew it! It must be international asshole day. I mean come on, what kind of a scum bag do you have to be to steal a cab from a blind guy and Nash? And two days before Christmas? I guess it’s good to see that the city is getting its edge back. I guess my bit about NYC losing its edge is working. The lady and another gentleman were very kind as they flagged a cab down for us, and we were on our way back home.

I monitored Nash pretty closely the rest of the day, and he didn’t have any more diarrhea, and was slowly but surely back on his way to being Nash. Oh, I did forget to mention as Nash and I were coming out of the examine room, I over heard someone say, “that’s the comedian!” I’m not sure if they were talking about Nash or me. We fed Nash his food and pill to settle his stomach, and hoped for no more accidents. We took it easy the rest of Thursday, and on Friday, Nash was back to being his regular self, and silly to. He was doing his nudge you with his head and turn around and want his butt scratched, his arm in your elbow as a head rest, his four paws up in the air while on his back demanding a belly rub, his sleeping in my bed which I now call Nashville, and most importantly, no accidents.

 

It is now Christmas, and Nash is completely healthy and fine, and demanding to be the center of attention he always is. Nash and I want to wish all of our readers a very Happy Holidays and healthy New Year. I hope to get a year in review blog donw next week, as it has been quite the interesting year.

Laugh For Sight South Florida A Recap

December 20, 2010

It’s hard to believe that three months have come and gone so quickly, and we have just completed the Laugh For Sight national expansion! Friday night, December 17 was our inaugural Laugh For Sight South Beach at The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach. The show was amazing as Bonnie McFarlane and Rich Vos came in from New Jersey, Bret Ernst came in from Los Angeles, and of course Nash and I came down from NYC. This was Laugh For Sight’s first venture to hosting our benefit at a hotel, as in the past we have always held the benefit at a comedy club. While we had been working on the preparations for month’s, we arrived at The Ritz on Thursday to get the final preparations in order. For those of you who have never planned an event, you would be amazed at everything that goes into it behind the scenes.

On Friday morning, we had a lot of press coverage to promote Laugh For Sight, as Rich Vos headed over to 105.9, Bret Ernst to ABC, and Bonnie and I to NBC for Today in Miami. The final days before any benefit is all about promotion. If I get any of the footage, I will get them posted up here.

Friday of course went by very quicly, and before we knew it, Friday night was here, and under Laugh For Sight was under way. The event started with a cokctail hour presented by Bacardi and a silent auction. We had a lot of great items up for bid, including Tim Tebow autographed jerseys, LeBron James autogrpahed jersey, Panama Jack Beach Cruise Bike, donated jewlery, New York Yankee stadium tour package, and more. We were also quite thankful to have Visionzone on hand as a sponsor, and we appreciate their continued support with the Laugh For Sight national expansion. The cocktail hour was a big hit, as people were able to meet with some of the comedians, and listen to a DJ spin.

The comedy show got started a little late, but we don’t like to feel rushed, so we are always fine with that as we do’t like anyone to feel rushed. Scott Wartham, the co-founder of Laugh For Sight was the first to take the stage and welcome everyone to Laugh For Sight. Scott then introduced everyone to Rich Vos, our host for the evening. It doesn’t get any better than Rich hosting the benefit, as he is amazing at working the room. I came up after Rich, and was followed by Bonnie McFarlane, America’s Sweetheart of Comedy imported from Canada. After Bonnie, it was on to Bret, and before we knew it, another Laugh For Sight was in the books. This show was a little smaller audience and performer wise, as it was the first time we held Laugh For Sight in a non-major comedy market, but the show was still a big hit.

It is strange, as now we don’t have another Laugh For Sight scheduled. We are not sure yet where Laugh For Sight will go in 2011, as while the benefits have been hugely popular, we need to reevaluate a lot of things. We will be making a decision in the next few weeks.

We want to thank The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach for hosting Laugh For Sight South Beach, my Mom Barbara Fischler for all the work she did promoting Laugh For Sight, and getting so many of her friends to attend. Scott Wartham, my partner in crime, and my eyes when Nash is sleeping. We want to thank VisionZone and Andre and Kelly. We would like to thank Panama Jack, Tim Tebow, Lebron James, Kramer Portraits, TheĀ  New York Yankees, and Bacardi. Without all of your kind donations, Laugh For Sight would not be able to raise as much money as we did. We would especially like to thank our comedians, Bret Ernst, Bonnie McFarlane, and Rich Vos. Your generosity and support of Laugh For Sight amazes me. Without your willingness to donate your time and talent, there wouldn’t be a Laugh For Sight.


You Can Take Your Guide Dog on a Cruise, but Can You Take Him Out of the Country?

December 14, 2010

Happy to report that Nash and I are back from a week at sea in the Western Caribbean, and Nash has great sea legs. The seas were a little rough, but Nash and I were fine unlike several other people who got a little sea sick. We headed out on Royal Caribbean’s Librty of the Seas last Sunday, and overall I would highly recommend the cruise to others. I will tell you however, that if you are going to head out on a cruise, make sure that you do not have to be in touch with work because the internet was .65 a minute, and the phone service was terrible. We did have a lot going on with Laugh For Sight South Beach, and had to be in touch with people, so it did make part of the cruise a little frustrating.

As we headed out to sea on out first true vacation in over ten years, we got a little familiar with the enormous ship. We did this by frequenting a few of the bars on board. Luckily, our cabin was in the middle of the ship, so it made getting places easy, although I did have to ask most of the time where I was and ask for other cruisers assistance getting to where I was going. All of the other cruisers were super friendly, except for a select few, but it was rare that we had to ask more than once for help. Nash was of course, the most popular guy on the entire cruise, and I would say that 70 percent of the ship asked to pet him, so telling people that he was working got a little annoying, but Nash did get to spend a lot of time with his harness off when we were relaxing, and he got tons of love. Monday was a day at sea, and we had anytime dining which I would suggest so you can go by your own schedule, as afterall, you are on vacation.

Monday was a a relaxing day at sea where Scott my friend who I went on the cruise with, Nash and I met a bunch of our fellow cruisers. We spoke with a lot of experienced cruisers to get the low down, and of course the question which I was asked the most during the cruise began. “Where does Nash go to the bathroom?” By the end of the cruise, I was so tired of being asked this question, my response was, “what room are you in?” Seriously though, the cruise set up a box at the back of the ship on the fourth level full of wood chips for Nash to go in. I don’t know why they thought Nash was a gerbil. Nash did go in the box about 80 percent of the time, and to the left of the box the rest of the time. Monday night we watched Monday Night Football in the sports bar in the middle of the Caribbean.. You have got to love modern technology

Tuesday we docked in Costa Maya, Mexico, a resort town that was built by the cruise lines, and you would not believe you were in Mexico, as it is not like any part of Mexico I have been to before. It was really clean and expensive! Nash was able to rejoin us ashore, and loved all the new smells of Mexico. We walked all around the port, as there were a lot of stores and restaurants. We settled on Senor Frogs, as they had free WiFi, and we had to do a lot of emailing for Laugh For Sight. I got a Margarita, and I have to tell you, it is probably the earliest in the morning I have ever ordered a cocktail, but when in Mexico. Thank God Scott asked to see the menu before I ordered my shrimp tacos that I was dying to have, as wait for it, wait for it, one taco was $21!!!! Are you kidding me, I thought we were in Mexico. We decided to finish our drink and head to a cheaper bar. We settled on a bar right at the port, and met some people from our ship. I enjoyed some shrimp tacos, and Nash enjoyed looking all around and sniffing everything in sight.

Wednesday we were in Belize, and this is when the fun began. Scott was going scuba diving so Nash and I were on our own all day. We were awoken by a phone call from the front desk that they had paid $25 to Belizian customs to inquire if Nash would be able to go ashore. When we booked the cruise we were told that as long as Nash had his papers, he would be able to get off at every port. I had heard from several of the cruisers who had been to Belize that it was not the safest place in the world, and unless you were going scuba diving or on a tour of the jungle that it was really not worth getting off the ship. So since I can’t see above water, there was no reason for me to go below water, and I didn’t want to be in the jungle alone, so I had planned to stay on the ship. Of course, I had to pay the fee anyway. Nash and I went to the pool bar, and met up with a bunch of the people we had been hanging out with. It was a real hot day, so we kept going between the pool and th ebar with my new friends Doreen and Barbara. They were a blast to hang out with and became my designated walkers when Scott wasn’t around and I needed to get somewhere. It’s amazing how much energy drinking in the sun takes up all day, as we had a lot of fun, but crashed out shortly after dinner. Of course, Nash woke me up at two in the morning to go for a walk. He definitely was enjoying being at sea and the salt water air, as I was told he kept walking around with his nose up in the air.

Thursay we were in Cozumel. Scott, Doreen, Barbar, and I headed ashore without Nash, as he was not allowed to get off the ship in Cozumel. I had bought Nash a new bone and gave it to him as he was going to have to y. I felt bad as Nash and I have been together for 19 months, and the longest we have been apart is 3 hours, and Nash does seem to have a little bit of a detachment disorder. The four of us headed ashore, and I broke out my cane, wow this was weird. We walked around the town, and made our way to Carlos and Charlies, the place to go in Cozumel. Amazingly, I remembered being at Carlos and Charlies 20 years ago. After getting there, I remembered why I recalled it, as the place is an absolute blast with people running around with whistles, making balloon hats, doing body shots, and all other sorts of things. We had a bunch of yard long margaritas, and had a hell of a time. But I kept thinking something was missing, oh yeah, poor little Nashy was back on the ship all alone. We were gone about five hours, aand I was anxious to get back to the room. When we walked in, Nash was asleep on his couch which was his bed during the cruise, he looked up, and laid back down as if he didn’t even miss me. His bone laid half chewed on the floor. I think he may have even had a date with the drug sniffing dog!

Thursday evening was the roughest night at sea, but Nash the sea dog was fine. After dinner we headed up to the top of the ship and the nice chill ounge Oliver Twists. We listened to some jazz, and then headed down to our regular bar which was getting a little old as they only played salsa music, and loud. Scott headed up to bed, as he was going diving the next day, so Nash and I were going to hang out for a little. We met a couple from Sweden, and we got to talking, and I finally discovered that yes, there was a bar on the ship that played something besides cruise music. There was a pub on deck five that had a great guitar player and plays all the classics and the entire bar would sing along, my favorite kind of bar. So Nash, the Swedish couple, and I headed down. Wow, what a blast this bar was, as you would just yell out songs, and Jimmy would start with a little comedy intro and play the songs. We stayed until close and then headed back to the room.

On Friday, we awoke to the captain’s voice and the disappointing news, that the seas were too rocky to get into Grand Cayman. Quite the disppointment, and a lot of the ship was pretty pissed off. Amazing that they don’t do anything to compensate us for one less port. So Friday turned into a sea day, and a day at the pool bar even though it was a little cold. We finally made our way to the casino, and I pleased that the ship allowed the dealer to place my chips on the roulette table. Sorry to report that Nash and I did not win anything. It had been 12 years since I last gambled in a casino, so it was fun, and I did hit a few numbers including Nash’s birthday 31, but we gave it all back. Friday night, we were back at the guitar bar, and another fun night of singing.

Saturday was our final day on the cruise ship and a day at sea. We packed nice and early to get it out of the way. We hung out at the pool all day with all the great people we had met over the past week. There were a bunch of drinks and even more laughs. I let Nash sit around without his harness on, as a lot of people wanted their picture with him and to come over and say goodbye. Overall, the cruise was a blast, and I think Nash enjoyed himself even if he only got to get off at one port. Strange that Royal Caribbean would tell me one thing when booking the cruise, and something different while at sea. I can’t imagine that Nash is the first guide dog to ever go on a cruise, so you would think they would have known the answers up front. I would definitely go on another cruise, but Nash would have to be allowed to get off at most of the ports for me to do it. I guess the two of us are now attached at the hip. Thankfully, Nash did not even attempt to jump over any of the rails into the sea, as I would of had to go in after him, and I don’t think the cruise ship would have stopped for usQ

Come Sail Away

December 5, 2010

I figure that Nash hasn’t really gotten to travel this year, so tomorrow I am taking Nash on his very first cruise. Nash, my friend Scott, and I are heading on a week long Caribbean cruise that will go to Cozumel, Belize, The Grand Cayman, and Costa Maya. It should be a blast. Hopefully, I won’t have to sic Nash on any Pirates of the Caribbean! We are looking forward to someĀ  r and r, while also prepping for the Inaugural Laugh For Sight South Beach on December 17th at The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach. Hey, Laugh For Sight is a 7 day a week job that doesn’t allow for a full vacation, as we are constantly dealing with issues and promoting the next benefit. I love cruises, but haven’t been on one in over ten years, so I am really looking forward to this one. Hopefully we will meet some interesting people, and who knows, maybe someone will recognize Nash and me from Top GearQ

Nash and I have been hanging in SoFlo the last few days at the parents getting work done on Laugh For Sight, and last night we headed over to Lauderdale to the National Lampoon Comedy club to meet with Rich Vos who will be performing at Laugh For Sight South Beach. We were just heading there to discuss some details of LFS and to check out some of the local comedians. Ends up Rich wanted me to do a set, and open for him. Nash and I did a guest spot, and we had a real great set. It was really interesting because we had a drunk woman commenting on everything I said, so I had a lot of fun with her. I began to go into my standard closer, and I mentioned high school, and the drunk woman loudly said, “high school!” and I had a great ad lib where I said to her “yeah for those of us who graduated middle school, we went on to high school!” And that got a great laugh, and shut her up for the rest of my set. I love ad libbing. Well, got to finish packing for the cruise, so hopefully the next blog will come at you from the high seas.

The Top Gear Experience and A Reflection

December 1, 2010

By now, I am assuming that most of my loyal readers have seen Nash and me on Top Gear on The History Channel, and if you haven’t, what are you waiting for? The History Channel is replaying our episode “Blind Drift” all week, and in case you missed it, you can watch it online here http://www.history.com/shows/top-gear/videos/top-gear-blind-drift#top-gear-blind-drift

I would highly recommend that you watch the entire episode, as it is quite entertaining, but if you are in a pinch for time, Nash and my segment appears about forty minutes into the episdoe, so you can drag the time slider, watch a few commercials, and then enjoy the segment.

I will look back on the filming of the segment, but first I would like to address a review of Top Gear that appeared in the NY Times on 11/19, as the reviewer of the show speculates that because of the editing you can’t really tell whether or not I am the one doing the driving. Well, the NY Times couldn’t be more incorrect, as I did all of my own stunt driving with Tanner Foust in the car instructing me. There’s nothing I can’t do with a great teacher, and Tanner was fantastic. In fact, all three hosts Tanner, Adam Ferrara, and Rutledge Wood were a blast to work with, and Nash and I wish them much success with their new show. We were very fortunate to be a small part of it. Thanks for everyone who has reached out to us via phone, email, and Facebook. We are thrilled that you loved the segment. It was very tough to not be able to talk about it, as we filmed the driving segment in May. And now a reflection on the experience.

I got a call in May from a Producer for Top Gear. The conversation started with her asking if I had ever heard of the show, and I had not. Hey, I am blind, and I don’t have a lot of use for cars. After we established that I had never heard of them. She paused, and was hesitant to speak the next line. I recall it went something like this, we ah, we ah, want to see if we can teach a blind guy to drive. Silence, and then I let out a huge laugh. I could sense relief come over the line from the Producer, as she said, good, I haven’t offended you. No, of course she hadn’t. She didn’t go into any details of what they had in mind, but told me Adam Ferrara was one of the hosts of the new Top Gear USA for The History Channel. Adam had donated his time and performed at our first ever Laugh For Sight, and since then has gone on to great success in movies and on Rescue Me. She asked if I would mind coming out to California to film an episode, and of course I was up for it, not even fully understanding what they wanted me to do. Hey, Nash and I had recently filmed the short film in California VisionZone You’re Not Alone Anymore, and we always like heading out to California. Plus with the Laugh For Sight L.A. expansion set for November, I could stay a few extra days for some meetings.

We got out to L.A. and headed about an hour North to some small town that I forget the name of. I didn’t really learn anything new when I arrived, just that I would be doing something called Drifting, which I was clueless about. Hey, there’s a lot of things that I am clueless about. Most of them being automotive or tool related. If you want to know who killed JFK, I can go into a pretty detailed description of what happened, but if you ask me to hammer something or use a screw driver, you’re out of luck.

We arrived at the Top Gear track early the next morning, and I met with the director and producers of the show where it was explained to me that Tanner who would be teaching me to drive, had no clue he was going to be teaching a blind guy to drive and drift, and it wouldn’t be revealed until I walked out on camera. I did learn that Tanner was a two time drift champion, and that he is a world class stunt driver who did the stunt driving for the Fast and Furious movies and others. Still, one question, what is drifting? It was explained to me fairly basically, that we would be doing three challenges, burnouts, doughnuts, and break parking, and of course, I still really didn’t understand, but now reality sunk in. Shit, I am going to be driving, what did I get myself in to?!

As the camera got set up for the first shot, they walked us out behind a barricade, and explained the scene to Nash and me. Adam came over, we said our hellos, and he asked the best way for me to walk out to where they were standing. I recalled something I did on stage a few times when I couldn’t find the mic, the old Marco Polo routine. You can never go wrong with Marco Polo. We then set up to shoot. And on cue, Nash and I were finally revealed to Tanner. People often ask what I miss most about not being able to see. Well, this would have been up there, as I would have loved to have been able to see Tanner’s expression when he learned that he had to teach a blind guy to drive. And yes, I was pretty nervous to.

Tanner, Nash, and I headed into the Nissan 370z and Tanner and I went through the controls of the car. No, none of it was scripted, and I was that brain dead, or nervous to not realize or remember that the gas is on the right. That I should have known, but I was taking a lot in. I think it says a lot about Tanner that he didn’t freak out or get out of the car when I asked that. I guess it made for good tv. I was surprised that I was actually driving a manual in minutes, as I had never driven a manual ever before. I was like Rainman slowly driving around the track. Once we took a few spins, we decided it was best for Nash to get out, as he was smarter than the rest of us, and didn’t like being in the car when I was behind the wheel.

After a few more laps around the track at faster and faster speeds, where I did run off the track a few times into the dirt that was next to it, we began the competition. First up, the Burnouts. This was a lot of fun, and a total blast. I mean how often do you get to floor a car in reverse laying down tread in a car you don’t own, and on a race track to. I laid 105 feet of tread, which I was told is quite impressive. I wish they would have kept my line, as I said something like. 105 feet of tread, Danice hit me up on twitter.

Next up was the doughnuts. This scared the shit out of me, as you are flooring the car in circles, I can’t see anything, so I have no clue what we are headed towards. Plus there is smoke coming up all around you into the car from the tires. I think at one time I may have even told Tanner to greab the wheel. And another time I thought Tanner was saying brake when he was saying faster faster faster. I guess I was wishing he was saying break. I thought I was going to throw up when we were doing this. Hey, I don’t even like rollercoasters. Lets just say even before I was blind, I wasn’t exactly an adrenaline speed junkie, and now that I am blind, I move slower than a turtle, so doing these doughnuts, was a little uncomfortable.

The final competition was the break parking. This was also a blast to do, and we got some good speed going around the track. I have to give Tanner a lot of props as he had to tell me left right straight straight, and so on, and was amazing at it. A lot of people who lead me around say right when they mean left, and so on, if Tanner got it wrong, it wouldn’t have been pretty.

At the end of the day, I think I was shaking from the adrenaline and the experience. Looking back on it, wow, what a day, and when will I ever get to drive again? The entire cast and crew was fantastic to work with, and Nash and I wish them much success with the show and future ventures.

Oh you say, well what about the studio audience portion of the show. Well, we didn’t film that part until October. We headed back out to California for that, and this trip was much more relaxing. No driving. Nash and I had to just come up on stage say whatever popped in to my head, and that supposed to be it. Well, for those of you who have seen the show, you know that Nash had an adlib I mean adpee in mind. I had walked Nash right before they brought us up on stage. We were standing in the audience, and as usual once we got up on stage, Nash decided that he needed to steal the spotlight yet again. It’s not enough that Nash is so cute, but he needs to get his laughs to. No, Nash peeing was not scripted, and for those of you who have dogs, you know it would be impossible to get your dog to pee on command, and on the logo of the show. I think it was Nash’s way of saying that’s all folks! Follow Nash and my adventures on twitter @blindgator and @laughforsight, and our blog on http://www.visionzone.org