Saturday, June 13, 2020

86. SuperStar Bio (hint: the joke is on me)

The internet is The Wild Wild West.

Only in the world of website startups, desperate for clicks and daily visitor stats, would I turn up on something called, "Superstar bio."

And yet it has happened. My SuperstarBio entry has some eye-opening information about me, including some facts that even I did not know. For starters, it lists my Net Worth as 2 million dollars. I laughed out loud when I first saw this. Pretty good joke, I thought. 

Then I went to my bank and showed them the website. "This says I'm worth 2 million dollars," I said. "This is a reputable, respectable website. So, you know, where's my 2 million dollars?"

The bankers looked at me sideways, as if I had lost my mind.

I learned many more surprising and unknown facts about myself, facts that were confirmed by another reputable and respectable website, Star9. I discovered that I am only 5-feet 9-inches tall. This came as a shock. The last time I measured myself - the last several times I measured myself - I came in at a half-inch over 6 feet. What happened, I asked myself. How did I lose 3 and a half inches? My only consolation was the weight I seemed to have lost in order to come in at their listed 160 pounds.

Between the two websites, I learned that my favorite food is 'vegetable rice.' I learned that my favorite destination is Los Angeles (not much of a destination since I actually LIVE in Los Angeles). My main 'qualification' is that I graduated from high school, and my hair color is 'light brown.'

The internet is an amazing place. At least they left my family and girlfriend history blank.

I want to set the record straight once and for all. I am going to create a list, here, of all the juicey details everyone wants to know about me. My hope is that this will clear up everyone's confusion once and for all.


PETER WICK STATISTICS


Education: Rumors only. Yes, there seems to have been some sort of education, but we are still trying to verify


Profession: Saying no to things that might make money


Known for: Appearing for two seconds - maybe less - in the upcoming, "Bill and Ted Face the Music."


Salary: Only slightly more than celery


Net Worth: You know what, let’s keep it at $2 million. That sounds way better than the truth


FAMILY AND RELATIVES


Father: "It's possible that we are all Frank Sinatra's children," -Ronan Farrow


Mother: Janet


Brothers: The one with the beard and the one with no hair of any kind


Sisters: The one with the giant dog and the one with two repaired joints from soccer injuries


Marital status: Dysfunctional


Wife/girlfriend: Why, did someone say something about me? Did they sound like they were going to court?


PETER WICK’S FAVORITES


Hobbies: Collecting things that should be thrown out


Favorite food: What can I have right now without going to the store?


Favorite destination: Away (just.... away...)


Favorite color: Blue (yes, they had this one right)

Body type: Bipedal humanoid (except when spotted crawling on all fours)

I can only hope that this new information satisfies my hungry fans.

Now if you would please let Mr. Wick through the door....excuse me..please, please make way...I'm sorry Mr. Wick is not signing autographs or taking selfies with his fans...if anyone has any ideas regarding a good, viral, career-ending scandal, Mr. Wick is taking suggestions.

Peter Wick
June 13, 2020

Thursday, May 14, 2020

85. The Fantasy World and What Used to be 'The Normal World'

A few months ago, before the world changed, I thought I had written a book contrasting 'the normal world' with a fantastical imaginary world, where drawings come to life and have their own consciousness. It never occurred to me at the time that 'the normal world' might be a little bit of a fantasy also.

It didn't feel odd to write a scene with four 12 and 13 year-old kids playing 2 on 2 soccer at their local park. Or a rich 60-year-old guy hosting a birthday party at his mansion, with lots of people in attendance.

People gathering, kids going to school. Normal stuff, right? Now it almost feels like the 'normal' world is as much a fantasy as the fantasy world.

But here we are. "Milo and Meg are Solid" (a title voted 'best title among the three options you gave me' by the only 12 year-old who voted) is a book about 13 year-old Milo and his 12 year-old sister Meg, living 'normal' lives in their medium sized town called August. Their normal lives are thrown upside down when they accidentally discover a strange portal between two trees at the park, that transports them into Icarus, a fantastical world where they become pencil drawings.

Then they begin meeting new friends in Icarus...

Where did this idea come from? I've already been asked this several times, and I'm struggling to answer. The idea of a portal to an imaginary world...well, that's Lewis Caroll's "Alice in Wonderland," or "Through the Looking Glass." It's C.S. Lewis's Narnia tales. It is Neil Gaiman. Name your fantasy author. I am happy to admit I am not reinventing the wheel with this aspect of the story.

As for the drawings having their own conscious lives? Sometimes an idea just lands on you. You can either run with it or toss it aside. This one I ran with. It seemed like an interesting question to me; What would happen if ('what if - ' the question that launched a thousand stories) characters from a simple artwork asked where they came from? What if they knew when they were being erased or redrawn? It sounded both fascinating and scary.

Is it for kids? Yes, slightly older kids. The characters are in middle school (remember when kids went to school?), but I think it's really for adults who are still partly kids. Milo and Meg roll their eyes at the boring old folks at the rich guy's birthday party. They're a little bit rebellious against their parents, but not too rebellious. They just know for a fact that their parents are dorks.

They struggle to adjust at first, when they become drawings once inside Icarus, but then they start making the transition effortlessly.

If I'm totally honest, I kept writing this story because I was having fun with it. I can only hope that the enjoyment translates to readers.

As always, I turn the idea over to you now. A book is the writer's, as long as he or she is writing it. Once readers begin reading it, it belongs to them.

It won't officially be out until a week and a half after I post this. Tuesday, May 26.

As I said before last month's post, thanks to all the readers out there who have made the Milo and Meg sneak peeks this blog's most popular posts over the past year.

What happens now? What makes a popular book during CoronaVirus times? Well, that's the complete unknown. I try not to have expectations. I know some readers will give it a look, though. thanks in advance. Enjoy!
Peter Wick
May 14, 2020

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

84. Final 'Milo and Meg' sneak peek

My new book, "Milo and Meg are Solid" will be published and available on May 26. I want to thank the many readers who have kept these sneak peeks among this blog's most-read posts over the past year. On May 15 I'll write up a little history of where the story originated. The book should also be available for pre-order around that time. -P.W.

From Chapter 6:
The next day after school Milo and Meg stopped on the hill where the two trees stood next to each other.

They paused for a moment, then Milo squeezed between the trees and was gone.

Meg followed.

As they adjusted to being back in Icarus, they realized something was different. It was quiet.

Where was the usual danger and panic?

A Gort flew overhead, but it seemed to be flying more peacefully than normal; none of the aggressive behavior that they had become used to.

"Ho! Ho! Milo and Meg!" It was Nanette's voice, shouting happily from the door of her hut across the field.

"Let's go," Milo said, and together they ran across the field.

As they came close to Nanette's hut they suddenly stopped running. Happy smiles spread across their faces.

"Wolf!" Meg shouted. "You're back!"

They all shared a few hugs.

Wolf was Nanette's son, grown up, like an older teenager, although sometimes he seemed younger, and occasionally he seemed a little bit older. It was hard to keep track, as his looks sometimes changed subtly, even as they looked at him.

"It was the strangest thing," Nanette said. "This mornin' I was just wakin' up and I heard him snoring like a lumberjack sawing wood. There he was!"

"Where were you?" Milo asked.

"Nowhere," said Wolf.

"He has no memory of being gone," Nanette said.

Milo and Meg looked at Wolf curiously.

"What's you last memory?" Meg asked.

"I just remember being here, talking to the two of you. Then you left, to go back to the solid world..." He paused for a minute. "Later that night, though, as I was falling asleep, I had a strange sensation."

Nanette came over from the stove. "Strange sensation," she said. "Wolfy, what was this here strange sensation yer speaking of?"

"I was going away."

Milo, Meg, and Nanette held their breath.

"You didn't mention none of this 'goin' away' bizness before," Nanette said, sounding slightly worried.

"My feet were going. Even the bed I was sleeping in was going. It was almost like I was falling asleep, except..."

"Exceptin' what, Wolfy?"

"...Except I wasn't going to sleep at all. I was wide awake. I was just disappearing...and then...then...I was...asleep, I guess. Then here I was this morning."

A long silence passed.

"Erased!" shouted Nanette. "You was erased! And then here you are redrawn!"

Peter Wick
April 15, 2020

Saturday, March 14, 2020

83. A Great Comedienne's Not So Great Son

I spent today at my mom's memorial service.

It was more a celebration of a life well-lived than a somber occasion.

I recently ran across an online archive of old college newspapers I wrote for many years ago, and discovered something I had forgotten writing. I cannot think of anything better to post in the wake of my mom's passing, then to simply re-print this old humor column I wrote back in college. I am putting it down here word for word as it appeared back then.

A Great Comedienne's Not So Great Son

My mother has a game she plays with her cat. In the middle of the night the cat, who sleeps on the bed with my mother, will walk up onto her face and begin a sort of dance to indicate that she needs to go outside for biological purposes.

My mother will then rise from her bed (without rising from her sleep) and will make her way blindly to the door, and then in the darkness wait to hear the patter of the cat's feet scuffling along the floor to the door.

A few nights ago, my mother related, she groped through the darkness and found the door, held it open and waited, but she heard no foot-patter from the cat.

Being a woman not so easily defeated, she decided to prompt the cat by going through the door first, signaling to the cat the action she was to take.

My mother opened the door wide, took three steps in, and found herself in a rack of my dad's clothes.

The incident impressed me. I did not realize my mother's talent, or the extent to which she taken it. My mother has proven to be one of the last living comedienne's who can successfully execute the oldest and most tested gag in all of comedy; walking into the closet.

I've tried it myself a few times, but it isn't as funny when I do it. Even though my mother has tutored me, I still perform the gag with an air suggesting that I actually want to go into the closet, and I usually seem much too happy once I'm inside.

I often have trouble performing traditional comic gags though, as one recent incident will surely indicate.

A couple weeks ago I decided to rehearse slipping. You know; the gag where a person engages in a headlong sprint, either to save a girl, stop a train, or in my case, to get a piece of paper and a pen. Then, just before the person arrives, he slips on a banana peel, or a sheet of ice, or in my case, a piece of wet plywood.

The buildup to the gag went well. I was in a movement class at the theater, wearing gym shorts and no socks or shoes. I learned that we needed a pen and paper, and so shot out the back door of the theater and sprinted toward the newspaper office just across the way. There is a plywood ramp up to the door of the office, and it was raining, and I was in bare feet, running at a care free pace. So far, so good.

As soon as my feet hit the plywood they flew into the air, and my body began flailing this way and that, giving me the appearance of a rag doll whose five year-old owner is trying to tear the stuffing out of him.

Then I landed and realized how I had misjudged the gag from the beginning. If I had come at the ramp from straight on, and flew into the air just as I had done, I could have landed and continued sliding the length of the walkway and ended up sitting on the gravel. I could have stood up, brushed off and said "Ha ha," and walked off as if I had planned the whole thing ahead of time.

Instead, I came at the ramp from a slight angle. Rather than sliding silently past the door and window, like an angel gliding by, I slid sideways, banged into the wall, the door, and the railing of the walkway, much like a 14-ton block of iron would if it were delivered to the newspaper door.

Not wanting to be shaken from my task, however, I quickly got up and popped in the door. I was met with turned heads, dazed eyes, and the gaped mouths of people who half expected to see a block of iron, and a bloody block of iron at that.

"Are you alright?" one person asked.

It hadn't occurred to me that I wouldn't be alright, so I said cheerfully, "Yes, I'm just here to get a pen and some paper." Then I grabbed the stuff and left in a flash.

Looking back, I can see that my reason for coming did not justify the worries of the people inside. It was a tough situation all around, however, for if I had told the truth, that I had just miserably failed a comic performance, they would have made a quick phone call and some men dressed in white would have been all too happy to take me away.

I can safely say that I have overcome the failure of that incident, and now I'm ready to try a new one. I want to try the gag in which you start up your car, but rather than pulling forward, you lurch backward into the car behind you. My mother did that one once and received a standing ovation.

I don't have a car, however, and I'm having a hard time convincing my friend to let me use his. I've told him that it would just take a minute, and that he would get a real kick out of it if he saw it, but for some reason he doesn't trust me.
-Peter Wick
March 14, 2020 (actually many years earlier)

Saturday, February 15, 2020

82. Zenny Lives!!! (in 'Bill and Ted Face the Music')

This is self-indulgent. When I explained all of this to a friend earlier this week, she said, "You're turning this into a game."

Yes, it's a game, but a game that I'm having a lot of fun with, so...hang with me.

In 2015 I wrote the novella, "It Is What it Is," featuring the Dude-inspired character Zenny Zeller. Zenny is a fictionalization of some alternate version of myself, the alternate me who stayed in the music world instead of quitting bands back in the day, the alternate me who remained a drummer.

Zenny is also inspired by the fact that since "The Big Lebowski" was released in the late 1990's, my sister has called me "Dude," consistently ever since. I think of 'Zenny' as my 'riff on The Dude.'

"It is What it Is" is not my most popular book. Others that I've written both before it, and more recently, have been more popular. It's a book I feel a lot of personal fondness for, though. I have tried to find a way to fund a film version of the book. So far Hollywood isn't buying. There is still time, though.

This book was also included, though, when we at Azzurri Publishing recently celebrated our first ever bundle of book sales in China (Stand with Hong Kong!)

This past Monday, on a purely coincidental whim, I responded to an open invitation to be part of a club scene, as an Extra, in the upcoming movie, "Bill and Ted Face The Music." Yes, this is the third Bill and Ted movie.

It was a whim. It was not an important thing I was doing. It was just a chance to hang out on a movie set for part of a day and watch how the crew worked.

On my way to the set, though, I realized something; it's a club scene. I'm the middle-aged 'Dude' going to see Kid Cudi perform. I'm....I'M PLAYING ZENNY!

The idea fit like a puzzle piece you've been waiting to find the right place for. Zenny is in this Bill and Ted movie. This is the character I'm playing.

Back in the day, when I spent a year and a half in the 1990's taking every movie or TV gig I could get booked for, I appeared in a small trilogy of concert/club performances; Aerosmith in "Wayne'sWorld 2" (both the concert scene early in the movie and 'Waynestock' at the end of the film), White Zombie in "Airheads" (read my "Chris Farley" write-up here on this blog), and Babes in Toyland in "S.F.W."

This Kid Cudi scene in 'Bill and Ted,' I realized, is also an extension of those. And...is it possible...that maybe, just maybe, I was ACTUALLY playing a much younger 'Zenny' in all of those movies too?

The answer is...YES! Zenny lives! Zenny is in "Wayne's World 2." Zenny is in "Airheads." Zenny is in S.F.W.

And Zenny is in the upcoming "Bill and Ted Face the Music."

Except...for the one unknown...I don't know if I'll make the final cut of the movie. But, hey, even if Zenny ends up on the cutting room floor, he was there. Zenny made his appearance. And no one could have given a better on-screen reaction to the one moment we all had to react to. I can't say what we were reacting to, because that might reveal a movie spoiler. We'll all have to wait until August, when the movie comes out, to answer all of these questions.

the point is; Zenny lives. Zenny has appeared on screen, in the past and in the present.

Is it all a game? Well, sure. So far IMDb has approved listing my appearance in the movie with the 'uncredited' line "Kid Cudi fan." I'm still working on getting that changed to the actual character name, "Zenny." I won't appear in the film's actual credits onscreen, but if I can convince IMDb to list the character as Zenny, that would at least be a partial battle won.

In the mean time, join the game with me!

Zenny lives!


(The cover image links to the book on Amazon)
Peter Wick
February 15, 2020

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

81. Dogs Do Math

I recently ran across this news item in the journal Science Daily:

"Dogs spontaneously process basic numerical quantities, using a distinct part of their brains that corresponds
closely to number-responsive neural regions in humans, finds a study at Emory University.”


In other words, dogs do math.


This has profound consequences for the future of teaching. Let’s project forward 100 years and peek
into a math classroom.


Charlie peered over his reading glasses at the collection of students seated in front of him.


Charlie is a mix, German Shepard and Lab. He stood erect on his hind legs, the way humans have for thousands
of years. It has become normal, these days, to see dogs standing at the front of a math classroom, dressed in
casual teacher garb; Charlie wore jeans and a tan button front shirt.


Today, Charlie thought silently to himself, is going to be a challenge.


“Alright! Students! Let’s try to bring the chaos under control!”


The dull roar of the classroom slowly began to quiet down. There’s always that one student, though, who keeps
chatting away after everyone else has stopped.


“...she totally ripped him a new one, right there in front of everyone, so -”


“Gary!” Charlie barked.


Gary suddenly realized everyone was listening to him.


“Class!” Charlie barked. “Who can solve the equation on the board?”
An awkward rumble whispered its way through the classroom. No one wanted to volunteer.


Charlie slowly moved his gaze from left to right across the room. He snorted quietly and pushed his glasses
back up his nose.


“Richard!”  he barked.


From the back of the classroom Richard’s eyes widened as he sat up and acted as if he had been paying attention.


“Richard,” Charlie said a second time, “Can you please solve the equation on the board?”


“Um...I um….I don’t think so,” Richard mumbled. “I, uh, I can’t see the board from back here.”


Charlie stood motionless at the front of the room, staring at Richard.


“Do you mean to tell me,” Charlies growled, “that you cannot see the board from the back of the room?”


“I have bad eyesight,” Richard said.


“And how long have you been sitting in the back?” Charlie growled.


“Um, the, uh, the whole semester,” Richard said sheepishly.


“Three months!” Charlie snapped.


“Uh, yeah, I guess so,” Richard said.


“For three months you have been sitting in the back of the room!”


“Uh huh.”


“And for three months you have not been able to see the board?”

“Right,” Richard said.

Charlie stared intently across the room at Richard. He flared his nostrils.

"Outside!" Charlie demanded.

"Huh?"

"Outside!"

"What do you mean?" Richard whimpered a little as he spoke.

"Outside for the rest of the day!" barked Charlie. "You need to think about what you've done."

"But it's freezing out there," Richard whimpered. "It's almost snowing."

"Outside!" Charlie snapped. "Now! And no lunch, until you understand the bad thing you've done!"

Richard moped his way through the classroom to the door, head down, tongue hanging limply from his mouth.

The door slammed shut behind him as he stepped out into the cold.

Richard spent the rest of the day whimpering outside the door, pushing uselessly on the door, as if it would open
just because he was sad enough. It was no use.

He learned his lesson, though.

Charlie was sure of that.
-Peter Wick
January 15, 2020