Saturday, May 13, 2023

115 - In Support of the WGA Writer's strike

Things have become a little too quiet.

I miss my regular dose of comedy. As much as I complain about the sometimes mediocre sketches on Saturday Night Live, getting through the week without my regular dose of Weekend Update leaves a hole in my life.

All the late night comedy/talk shows have gone dark. Series that would be in production right now have gone silent. Writer's can be found on picket lines outside the major studios here in Los Angeles.

Writers are on strike!

I've often described myself as being 'on the fringes of Hollywood.' I'm not deep into the Hollywood soup, but I am here in L.A. as a writer-comedian-actor-director. Most of what I do is pretty low budget and independent by Hollywood standards. I'm comfortable with that. Low-budget 'Indy' has been my life. The timing of this strike hits home for me, though. I have a project in the lower levels of a notable production company. Conversations about rewrites were ongoing, before it ideally would be sent upstairs and submitted to the top brass of the company. Those conversation have shut down during the strike.

So, yes, I am on strike.

I'm not going to get into the specifics of the issues bringing the strike on. I just want everyone out there to respect writers, support the strike, and put pressure on the Producers.

As the world has shifted to an all-streaming TV model, the old rules no longer apply, and Producers have found writers to be an easy target to squeeze.

I've chatted casually with a few of my non-entertainment industry, soccer teammate friends about it. They seem to support the writers in general, but also can't stop themselves from a little criticism. "So many shows are just crap," they say. I laugh with them. "Yeah, I agree, there's a lot of really crappy writing going on in this city."

But let's not make the problem worse. Pay the writers a living wage. there are billions of dollars floating around in this city. Let's, at the very least, respect writers as much as we respect each company's stock-holders.

That's all I really have to say.

Respect writers. support the strike. Let's reach a new agreement, and get back to doing what we love.

Peter Wick

May 13, 2023

Friday, April 14, 2023

114 - An Open Letter to my Brother, John Wick

Dear John;

It's Peter, your brother, the guy who you used to tease when we were kids - well, when we were VERY little kids. Then you started taking Judo lessons, and it wasn't teasing anymore.

How are you, John? I see that another movie about your adventures has just come out. I'll see it eventually. I can't rush out to watch your movies right away. I have to think about it for a while first. I have to reflect back on our childhood together, the good times, the bad times, the puncture wounds...

I'm just now at a place, mentally, where I can handle watching your third movie.

I see you're down one finger. Ouch! That was hardcore!

You missed Mom's memorial service, John. She took one unfulfilled desire to the grave with her; she wished you and she could reconcile.

I know! I know what you're thinking; "Well, she shouldn't have kicked me out of the family."

It was a difficult time, John. Dad had passed two years before, and she was enjoying dating that guy, you know the guy. Sure sometimes he said mean things to us...but, John, you didn't have to break his neck! All he did was tell the dog to shut up. And, John, face it, that dog was crazy! Just that one, John, that was the only crazy dog, ever. And Mom's date just yelled "Shut up!" at the dog, and, well, you kinda lost it then, John.

You see, John, it was hard for Mom to get her head around the idea of you killing people. I mean, besides you, we were pretty much a peace-loving family. None of the rest of us ever killed anyone. It just wasn't something we did, John. We played basketball! We played soccer. Then off you go and become an assassin.

And, look, I know you're conflicted about it. I know for each one of the 500 people you've killed you feel a nagging pain inside.

I just want to reconcile, John. I'm your brother. Brothers should talk to each other. Maybe I can set up a little meetup. Just you, me, and my dog Sheila, that's it. No one else. No assassins. No counter assasins. No one trying to kill anyone. Just two brothers having a good moment with a dog.

What do you say, John?

For Mom?

Peter Wick

April 14, 2023

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

113 - The Reader Appreciation Post

 Thank you!

This is how I have to start this post. For all the sarcasm and snark that makes up Simple Displeasures, this one time I have to sit back and just say, "Hey, everyone...thanks."

When someone settles into a creative life, putting work out into the world for everyone and anyone to consume, to enjoy, and sometimes to criticize, any kind of positive response feels like teamwork. Well, sometimes, the way I do it, it feels like we are co-conspirators. When I write something just a little bit subversive, and it gets a decent number of readers, I feel like myself and you readers are in on something together.

I began Simple Displeasures a little over a decade ago, thinking it would be LUCKY to build a small unique group of regular readers. I mean, I decided early on - and stuck to the decision - to post only once a month. During the first year or two I was satisfied with maybe a hundred views in a month. Not TOO bad, I thought. Not bad for something that doesn't really have anything to directly compare itself to. I think the closest thing I can compare this to, is an old-school monthly magazine humor column.

Eventually, five or six years into this thing, I was happy to see 1,000 people having a look each month.

Last month - February, 2023, this little thing passed 5,000 views in a month, and crossed the lifetime mark of 100,000.

Now... I get it. This is the internet, and you are supposed to be counting your hits in the millions, not thousands or hundred thousands. But, this is writing, sometimes funny writing, but still, reading is not exactly at the heart of the current zeitgeist.

And yet, readers exist!

You are readers! So...thanks!

Over the past 100 years or so, societal group-think has gravitated toward a philosophy that artists have to be rich and famous to be considered successful. Artists (trust me) understand the flaw in this thinking. Having an 'Artist-Audience' relationship with society - or even small niche chunks of society - is more of a mission. Sometimes (and I will always thank my somewhat famous grunge friends who survived the 90s for teaching me this) it is more valuable to have a smaller-but-genuine relationship with an audience.

So, here we are.

It makes me laugh to realize that you as a readership have grown in numbers AFTER I quit Elon Musk's Twitter. Admittedly I do use a little bit of Google advertising for some of my stuff, but currently a little bit less than in the past.

I keep being surprised at the monthly numbers...and - despite the snark and the sarcasm - I am slightly touched.

Please forgive me for being slightly sentimental this month. I'm sure I'll be back to the sarcasm in April.

Here's to the future!

Peter Wick

March 14, 2023

Monday, February 13, 2023

112 - The Probum with Book Lernin - By Guvuner Ron Duh-Santis

Look, America, if the way we learned history back in the day, was good enough for your granpappy, if it was good enough for me, then dang it, it's good enough for you!

The probum with all this new-fangled LERNIN and stuff - people tryna teach you things that actually happened back in the past and stuff, is that you gonna end up learnin stuff that you jus' don't wanna know! I mean, seriously, you jus' don't wanna know it, so you shouldn't have to. And now I'm gonna protect your freedom here, your freedom to not know stuff!

So, here's my proposal for colleges: Stop teachin' bad stuff! 

By bad stuff, I mean stuff that people don't wanna know! You know, like that slavery was as bad as it actually was. Jus' don't teach that. People don't wanna know that bad stuff, you know?

Just teach the basic stuff, like that everything was better in the past. That's what you should be teachin. Teach people that since everything was better in the past, then we can cheer and feel good about everything today.

Besides, teachin' bad history isn't gonna have any affect on what happens today. you know, 'cuz it's so long ago. Stuff that happened so long ago don't have any bearing on what happens today. At least that's what I think, and if I can think it, you can too!

Now, let's look at this here A.P. Black history course that I cancelled. That course was WOKE!

Now, you all know what I mean when I use that word WOKE! Right? I mean, I have no idea what WOKE is, but I know it's bad, so I can just call stuff WOKE and everyone knows that stuff is bad! WOKEY POKEY DOKEY?

What stuff is WOKE? Anything that teaches history that was bad. I mean, sure bad stuff happened in the past, but that doesn't mean we should KNOW it! Cuz, you know, everything was better in the past, at least in the past that I know about.

So...I've decided what colleges and universities can teach.

Now, some people come up to me and they say, "Hey, Guv! There's experts at these places, experts who know more than anyone else about certian things. Experts gotta be allowed to teach what they know!"


Experts are WOKE!

Experts are people who have an agenda.

What is their agenda? 

To TEACH you stuff!



No more!

No more teachin stuff.

AND...I'm banning books! All of them! No more readin'! Why do people read, anyway? readin' is WEIRD! All the books I've banned are weird books. No more!

And don't question what you're taught. Just believe it, like I do. That way you can be jus like everyone else...NORMAL! 

Be the same as everyone else. If everyone else can be normal and the same, and not have have any weird thoughts in their head, then you can do it too!

I'm here to protect your RIGHTS! Protect your rights to not know stuff. Protect your rights to not be subjected to the information taught by the WOKE MOB! Protect your rights to only know the history that I know about!

Stay normal America!

Be the same as everyone else!

Stop tryna be smart and weird, you weird readin' weirdos!

Peter Wick

February 14, 2023

Saturday, January 14, 2023

111 - The Future of True Facts

The Science Professor finished making a few notes in his notebook, and looked up to see his 4pm appointment, a student named Mick, walk in the door of his office and sit down in the chair opposite him.

“Hello, Mick,” the professor said.


Mick looked sideways at the professor and inhaled. “I need a better grade in this class,” he said.

The professor looked across at Mick. He cleared his throat. “Well,” he began, “there’s a perfectly simple way to bring your grade up. You know what it is. You’ve missed four assignments.”

“I can’t do the assignments,” Mick said. “They cause me anxiety.”

The professor did not say anything for a moment.

Mick continued. “Also,” he said, “you said I was wrong when I wrote that the air we breathe contains pixie dust.”

“Yes,” the professor replied. “I said you were wrong. Our air does not contain pixie dust.”

“You’re discriminating against my most personal beliefs,” Mick said.

The professor stood up and walked behind his desk.

“Mick, this is a science class. Science contains facts. We can very clearly measure exactly what elements are in the air we breathe.”

“You’re discriminating against my beliefs,” Mick repeated. “I believe with all my heart and soul that the air we breathe contains pixie dust.”

“Mick,” the professor said. He stopped. He dropped his head. He continued. “You signed up for this class in order to learn the things that I can teach you.”

“No – “ Mick interrupted.

“No?” the professor asked.

“I signed up for this class because I need this credit. I don’t want you to indoctrinate me with your elitist propaganda.”

“Elitist propa – “ the professor half-laughed. “This is science – “

“And I need you to stop teaching science as if it is facts.”

“Mick! Where did you get the idea that you can tell me what to teach? I’m the teacher. You’re the student.”

“You’re being discriminatory,” Mick said. “You teach things that cause me anxiety. I believe air contains pixie dust, and if you tell me I’m wrong, you’re cancelling my freedom of speech.”


The professor looked down at his desk and shook his head. “Mick, look I’m sorry about being argumentative. It’s just that we have scientific tools that measure the air we breathe. It contains Oxygen, Nitrogen, carbon dioxide – “

“And, in my opinion, pixie dust,” Mick said.

“Opinion…there’s no opinion about it.”

“Now you’re being pixie-dust-phobic,” Mick said. “You’re being critical of me for having beliefs that don’t match with yours.”

The professor sat down at his desk and stared at the papers.

Mick continued. “I’m circulating a petition.”

“A petition?”

“A petition to have you fired for so many reasons; for causing your students so much anxiety, with the assignments and the learning so-called ‘facts,’ for being pixie-dust-phobic, for discriminating against the personal beliefs of your students.”

“Mick, this institution will never fire me for teaching science accurately. I’m sorry I couldn’t help you today. Have a good day.”

A week later the professor was fired. Mick had won.

Later in life Mick would become famous for his theory that Democrats are actually laboratory-engineered mutant yaks, designed to take over the world in their fake human form. Yes, there were those who thought Mick was an absurd clown, but Mick campaigned with fervent belief, and so the people eventually came around to his way of thinking.

Then, when he failed to become elected President, half of the voting public believed him when he said the election was stolen by alien space satellites that infect people’s brains, and force them to accidentally vote for the wrong person…

Peter Wick

January 14, 2023

Friday, November 11, 2022

110 - Craig interviews me about How To Confuse A.I.

 I first met Craig Joyce when he was 11. I think I was 14 at the time. We’ve known each other for so long, we can sometimes finish each other’s sentences.

Craig is an odd person. I know, that’s a weird thing to say about an old friend, but he, of all people, completely agrees with that.

Craig has written extensively about the Seattle/Grunge music scene, and has occasionally helped me out editorially with Azzurri Publishing. He came by recently to ask me a few questions about my recent book, How To Confuse A.I.

The following is what Craig himself sent me after the interview. We talked for a lot longer than this. I didn’t have any editorial input. I’m just posting what he decided to include. -P.W.


Craig: Peter Wick, how is the publishing and movie-making going?

Peter: That’s a pretty broad question to start with, Craig.

Craig: Are you ducking the question?

Peter: No. things are going okay. I could imagine them going a little better, but that’s probably always the case with anything in life.

Craig: Tell me about the inspiration for ‘How To Confuse A.I.’

Peter: Okay, well, it starts with “Dr, Strangelove.”

Craig: The 1960’s Stanley Kubrick film.

Peter: Yes, it’s a satire, a brilliantly funny satire. Most of the kids these days probably don’t know anything about Dr. Strangelove, but they should check it out. They probably just think I’m getting the name of Dr. Strange, from Marvel, wrong.

Craig: It had Peter Sellers in three roles –

Peter: Yeah, and it finds hilarious comedy in accidental nuclear war.

Craig: I remember finding it a little bit disturbing.

Peter: Well, yeah, if you find comically accidental nuclear annihilation disturbing –

Craig: I do.

Peter: But the point is, it’s sort of the ultimate, the most brilliant and funny satire of all time.

Craig:  And what connection does it have to How To confuse A.I.?

Peter: I just always emulated that approach to comedy. I always wanted to channel that approach, that biting satire to something.

Craig: So, 50 years in the future –

Peter: Yes, these tech guys, these billionaires, and what I consider this almost religious level of hyperventilating about technology – what’s the next big thing? How will technology save humanity this time?

Craig: You wanted to satirize that.

Peter: I did. So, I just projected these tech elements we’re living with, fifty years into the future, and went with it.

Craig: Who exactly are you satirizing?

Peter: Do you mean which billionaires?

Craig: Yes.

Peter: Well, I think it’s pretty obvious.

Craig: You have a character named Tyrell Elon Zuzerzos.

Peter: Yep.

Craig: Tyrell is from –

Peter: Blade Runner.

Craig: The 1982 Ridley Scott film.

Peter: Yeah, and the sequel, 2049. The Tyrell Corporation makes the Replicants, the simulated humans.

Craig: Then the name Elon –

Peter: Yes, and?

Craig: Elon Musk?

Peter: Look, I don’t want to be sued. But, yes, and the courts generally protect satire and parody. But, yes, Elon Chief Twit Musk.

Craig: And Zuzerzos.

Peter: So, the idea is simply that if you take Jeff Bezos, or Amazon’s Alexa, plus Musk’s Neuralink, plus Zuckerberg’s Metaverse, and give them a combined fifty-year evolution, you might see where I imagined the Simu-Network.

Craig: Where the robots are indistinguishable from humans.

Peter: They live among us.

Craig: And everything is connected?

Peter: Yes, there are no devices anymore. Everything is either inside you or attached to you.

Craig: You have an element of the story concerned with Bio-Wars, viruses and diseases.  Was part of the story influenced by the COVID pandemic?

Peter: Absolutely. I mean, sitting in the middle of the pandemic, where everyone was suddenly working remotely, where all these meetings happened over zoom instead of in person. That lifestyle, combined with the simple reality of a worldwide pandemic, that answered a question for me in the overall story structure. The possibility of this on an even larger scale gave me an option to create fear. You know, there’s that sort of villain out there, The Others.

Craig: Is there anything else you’re targeting for satire here?

Peter: Oh probably, I don’t know. I mean, the surveillance state of China, maybe. The way they have no limits on how much the government can invade privacy, that certainly found its way in. I don’t mean I’m satirizing China. I mean, imagine that level of surveillance happening in the western world, and people accepting it because of that fear.

Craig: The way you describe it, it doesn’t sound very funny.

Peter: (laughs) Well, Dr, Strangelove, and accidental nuclear war probably doesn’t sound very funny.

Craig: And how do you convince readers to check out the book?

Peter: Well, it is funny. I’m very proud of it. It got a 5-star review from Readers Favorite.

Craig: Any final thoughts or comments you would like people to know?

Peter: You know, I’ve become more open to all the unpredictable ways people respond to things these days. I might have my own opinion about this thing I wrote, or that movie I made, but people vote with their three dollars. I appreciate any three dollars anyone spends on something of mine, but I’m sometimes surprised what people respond to, and on the other hand what they don’t respond to. I just want people to give this book a look.

Craig: What things are people responding to?  What are your most popular books and movies?

Peter: I’d probably have to say that right now, the book, “The Past Is Going To Suck,” currently has the most readers.

Craig: Currently?

Peter: I mean, it’s been out for about four years. The Key West books go back almost ten years now. Over their history they’ve sold more copies.

Craig: And movies?

Peter: The first one, surprisingly.

Craig: That would be Long Strange Trip.

Peter: Yes, these things go in cycles. For a while around 2014, 2015, thousands of people were watching the second one, Movie Pizza Love on youtube. Now, Long Strange Trip, this old 1990’s thing, shot on film, gritty, low budget, suffers from the low budget in places. I’ve been getting paid for it by Amazon these last couple years. People are actually watching it more than something I might personally consider a better movie.

Craig: Do you care to say which movie you mean? Which one do you consider a better movie?

Peter: I’m not going to say. People can find my stuff. I want to focus on this new book, How To Confuse A.I.

Craig: Thanks for your time, Peter.

Peter: Good to see you, Craig. Say hi to Smitty for me.

Peter Wick (and Craig Joyce)

November 11. 2022

Saturday, October 15, 2022

109 - House of Game of Dragon Throne Mandalorians

 The writers room was full.

Zack Thorington, Producer, Director, Billionaire, sat at the head of the table. He cleared his throat. Slowly those present stopped talking and took a seat.

"Alright," he said, "we have a 5 series deal. We have cross-over deals with both HBO and Disney. What do you have for me?"

Heads turned in all directions.

A moment's pause.

"Dragons..." Gary Snyder said darmattically, "Versus The Hulk."

"Okay, that's a start. Tell me more," Thorington demanded.

"Alright you have dragons flying around destroying things, and who comes to save the village? The Hulk."

"But - " Ellen Mayfield jumped in from the far end of the table, "Boba Fett is visiting the village, and he and The Mandalorian, and Grogu think The Hulk is going about this all wrong, so"

"Get Black Pantrher involved - "

"Because this is Wakanda, but Wakanda on another planet millions of years ago -"

"But actually it's Earth millions of years ago, in a different age, and thanks to acccidental time travel, The Avengers - "

"And The Justice League - "

"And The Guardians of The Galaxy -"

"Are all there."

Zack Thorington cleared his throat and shifted in his chair. He turned to Gary Snyder. "Which side are the dragons on, again?" He asked.

"I - uh - I don't know," Snyder said sheepishly. "I lost track. Does it matter?"

"No," laughed Thorington. "No, it doesn't. Good work everyone, Let's split you up into two different teams. Half of you will create the spin-off series. There's a lot of money to be squeezed out of this. Okay, let's get to work."

Peter Wick

Octover 15, 2022