Thursday, February 15, 2024

122 - It's The Law

 In Baltimore, Maryland it is illegal to take a lion to the movies. This is a true thing.

This brings up the obvious question; who took a lion to the movies, and what did that lion do that made the city write a new law?

"Excuse me, sir, but your lion is eating the children."

"Oh, man, sorry. My bad."

"Yes, but what are you going to do about the children?"

"Um, well, uh, you can have one of  mine."

A Minnesota law states that it is illegal to cross state lines with a duck on top of your head.

Hm, this one, if you ask me, is a prime example of legal over-reach. I mean, the lion at the movies, I get that, but what serious damage can a duck on top of your head do, other than a little damage to your reputation?

In Nevada, apparently, it is illegal to drive a camel on the highway.

In Marion, Ohio, you cannot eat a donut and walk backwards on a city street.

In Myrtle Creek, Oregon, it is illegal for you to box with a kangaroo.

So, you know, do what I do, Anytime I want to box with a kangaroo I head up the freeway to the lawless town of Roseburg. Kangaroo boxing runs rampant in Roseburg. Have fun!

In Fountain Inn, South Carolina, there is a law still on the books from years ago, requiring horses to wear pants. At least I assume this law is from years ago. I could be wrong. Maybe this is a recent development. Maybe in the modern world of educated horses, they feel a need to get dressed.

In West Virginia, in the town of Wilbur, it is illegal to walk a lion, tiger, or leopard around town, even if they are on a leash. Wait a minute, let's go back to Baltimore, where you cannot bring a lion into a movie theater. Are you telling me it is NOT illegal, in Baltimore, to walk your lion around town on a leash? I mean...my lion likes movies, but at least in Baltimore I can take him for a walk on a leash.

Pack up, Simba. We're moving!

Peter Wick

February 15, 2024

Saturday, January 13, 2024

121 - The Pigeon In The Fountain Bed

 If you had told me, back in the day, when I was a teenager, that decades later we would be talking about The Pigeon In The Fountainbed, not only would I have told you you were crazy, I might have even been a little bit horrified.

There are few different ways I could tell this story. Let's start sometime in mid 2022, when I listened to my old friend Mark Arm on Marc Maron's WTF podcast. He spent an hour answering questions about the history of 'Grunge' music. He talked about his memories of Kurt Cobain and some of the shows he and the band Mudhoney spent on the road with Nirvana. He talked about his good friends in Pearl Jam and how they navigated the craziness of sudden fame so much better than Nirvana did (there are several videos on youtube if you want to see Mark performing as a guest with Pearl Jam - they're fun to watch!). Then, toward the end of the podcast, they went back to the beginning. Mark began talking about the teenage years, a decade before the Grunge explosion. They talked about Mark's first band, Mr. Epp and The Calculations (named for a high school math teacher). This is when Mark talked briefly about...well...about me.

"Peter," he said, "quit the band to be a writer."

He has mentioned this a few other times in interviews, and I always respond with a mix of pride, laughter, and yes, a tiny bit of embarrassment.

I've actually talked to Mark about this a little bit, and all these years later, he still thinks it was a strange moment; a rag tag band, who could barely even play instruments at the time, losing a member because I thought they would become famous, and this wasn't the kind of fame I wanted.

It might seem strange, but a decade later, when Seattle and Grunge were suddenly rewriting the history of music, I felt a little bit vindicated.

I grew up in a very musical household. My dad - who had once been a jazz saxophone guy before he ever met my mom (something he almost refused to talk about when we were growing up) taught saxophone and clarinet to high school band students. My mom taught piano lessons. I got a few occasional piano lessons from her, but never on a consistent enough basis (I was never a paying student, and often dropped down the list of her teaching priorities) to ever become any good.

But as a creative teenager who was drawn to writers, comedians and filmmakers, as well as ground-breaking musicians, it was a natural for me to fall in with this wild group of creative teenagers who, among other creative projects, wanted to buy cheap instruments and try playing punk rock.

There was a 'real' drummer in the group, and it was the real drummer's bedroom that became our practice space. The 'real' drummer, though, didn't want to be in the band at first, basically because he was really good, and the rest of us, well, weren't. So for a while I was the drummer, but not for the first thing we actually recorded. The first thing we actually recorded was a noisy, experimental improvised jam session, with me on vocals reading a short story I had written. This was The Pigeon in the Fountainbed.

We did it because a local radio station promised to play something from every tape submitted by a local band.

So we sent Pigeon to the radio station, where the DJ introduced the song by calling us, "The worst band in the world" (you can also read this little bit of history on Mark Arm's Wikipedia page).

After Pigeon had it's moment, everyone sort of moved on. The band got more focused on being a punk band. I played drums until I quit 'to be a writer.' The 'real' drummer eventually joined. Bands split up and formed new bands. Mark and Steve Turner (who was in Epp for its final year in 1984) formed Green River, which (this is way over-simplifying) eventually split up into the two bands, Mudhoney and Pearl Jam.

I never heard The Pigeon in the Fountainbed again for decades. I actually thought it had been lost. I didn't even have any record of the written short story (which I thought was ok, since it was pretentious and over-written, in that way teenagers are prone to over-do things).

Then it turns out, this past year, Smitty (original Epp co-founder) was collaborating with a production company working on a Grunge documentary for Showtime (this documentary is currently on hold due to Hollywood company mergers). Smitty had sent them the original Pigeon cassette tape, which apparently was still listenable, and they transferred it to a digital version. I was also in touch with someone involved in this documentary, and through this connection, we have been able to listen to The Pigeon in the Fountainbed for the first time in decades.

It seems strange to say it, but I kind of like it.

Maybe I'm a little bit biased. It's not really punk. It's more like a weird experimental alternative kind of thing.

So...SOMEDAY....someday, we will release this old thing out to the world.

Someday...stay tuned.

Peter Wick

January 13, 2024

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

120 - All The Important News

The Coast Guard arrested Reza Baluchi, in Florida, recently, for using a giant hamster wheel to try to cross the Atlantic Ocean.



I think I'm allowed to use this picture, maybe if I credit it to Flagler County, Florida Sheriff's Office.

This is exactly the news I needed to hear. With multiple wars going on in the world, politics sinking into new realms of dysfunction, Climate teetering on the brink of disaster, I needed something to remind me of the basic ingenuity of the human species. 

Someone - who knows why? - invented a giant hamster wheel and tried to cross the Atlantic Ocean in it. Inside, you know, running like a hamster to make it go. And he was arrested because it ran afoul of Coast Guard sea-faring regulations. Amazing! I couldn't be happier.

My faith in the absurdity of human life has been restored. 

Just when I was worried that our human ridiculousness had taken things too far, along comes a story reminding us all that we humans are, not just smart, but smart in completely absurd and useless ways.

Thank you Reza.

I'm book-marking several news outlets now, not for the imprtant news, but for their odd, weird and absurd news.

Anyone interested in the 'aliens' exhibited to Mexican politicians? No? How about, "Charity shop asks people not to donate sex toys"?

"Spanish Duke told he has to shorten his daughter's 25-word long name." Anyone?

"Bear steals food delivery from doorstep." I like that one. Bears deserve some credit. Nothing could make a bear happier than to find some fresh Pizza Hut sitting out in the open.

The world might not go to hell this week after all. I mean...it MIGHT, but at least I'll find something to smile and laugh about on our way down.

Peter Wick

November 14, 2023


Saturday, October 14, 2023

119 - Biden's Dog

 My name is Commander.

I am a GOOD BOY!

I know I'm a good boy, because Dad told me. Dad is the President of the United States, Joe Biden. He told me I'm a good boy, so that's how I know I'm a good boy.

My job is to bite bad people.

Like that guy who I bit who was wearing the thing in his ear. He was talking into some kind of thing in his hand. He didn't seem good to me, so I bit him.

Some people acted mad, saying "No!" and yellling at me.

Then Dad pet the top of my head real good and said, "No more biting! No more biting," which I think means that I am supposed to do more biting, so I went out and bit another guy.

I love biting people!

This time it was that guy named Kevin McCarthy. He came over to the house and was talking with Dad all about letting the government shut down.

So I bit him.

Then everyone was saying, "No more biting! No more biting!" again.

So went out to find the next bad person to bite.

I like my job. It's a good job. Some people just don't seem right, you know, so they need to be bitten.

One time we were out in the back yard of the house, and some guy who spoke funny was talking to Dad. I heard someone say something about this guy being the head of some other country, whatever a country is.

He had this really funny way of talking. It sounded weird to me. I didn't recognize any of the words he said. there was no 'good boy,' or 'what a good dog,' or anything else that I know.

So I bit him.

Again, lots of people started talking real loud, A lot of commotion. Then Dad pet my head real real good, and said, "No more biting! No more biting!"

So I went out to do more biting.

What a job! To do something you love means you never have to 'work.'

I love biting people. It gives me a sense of purpose in life.

And I always get a treat! 

What a life!

So, now I guess I have been transfered. I don't live at the big house anymore. I'm at a smaller house and only see Dad a few times a month. But when I see him he still pets my head real good and tells me I'm a good boy. 

So, I know I'm doing a good job.

So, watch out. Don't be one of those people who seems bad, Don't be like that guy who gets on TV and says Dad does things wrong. I really need to find that guy. I really need to get inside the TV and bite that guy.

I have a job to do.


Peter Wick

October 14, 2023


Thursday, September 14, 2023

118 - Sneak Peek "Death And Saxophones"

Sometime early next year, 2024, I'll have a book published that is mostly a collection of short things. It's the second such book. 2017's "Funny Sexy Nanobots" was the first. It is NOT one of my most successful books.. I've had successful books, so I can feel humble and comfortable admitting this. "Funny Sexy" (as I think of that book privately) has not exactly been a best seller.

It's a book close my heart, though. It collects many pieces from the first five years of this blog and mixes them in with earlier short things I wrote, and then finishes up with a story called, "The Salvador Deli." No one reviewed the book, although my friend and sometimes co-worker Ross Denyer told me in no uncertain terms that "The Salvador Deli" was "Fantastic," and talked about turning it into a movie for a while ('for a while' meaning that he stopped talking about it when he realized I wasn't going to help him turn it into a movie, because I had other things I was more intent on doing at the time).

So here comes Simple Displeasures collection #2; Death And Saxophones. It collects the years of this blog (minus these 'sneak peeks') since Funny Sexy, and includes another old thing I wrote, this time a comedy screenplay I did back in my twenties called....you guessed it...Death And Saxophones.

So...here is a sneak peek, a section from a few scenes in. 

Wealthy Beverly Hills bigwig TV producer Wille Benson has died. "Death....and saxophones," were his final words. Here's hoping this scenes makes sense and gives some tiny indication of the style of comedy I was trying for at the time.

INT. NIGHT. DOWNSTAIRS HALL. HALF HOUR LATER.

 

A policeman is talking to a doctor. The body is being wheeled out the door on a stretcher.

 

                                    POLICEMAN:

            Everything’s on the level, then?

 

                                    DOCTOR:

            Yes, yes, no foul play.

 

                                    POLICEMAN:

            I guess that’ll be it, then.

 

                                    DOCTOR:

If it’s alright, I’d like to stay and talk to the family for a minute.

 

                        POLICEMAN:

Okay, I’ll take off, though. See ya.

 

                        DOCTOR:

Goodbye.

 

Policeman leaves. The doctor goes toward the sitting room, where the family is gathered.

 

INT. SITTING ROOM. CONTINUOUS.

 

The doctor enters. Mitzi is sitting in a chair, touching herself up with makeup. Suzy has on sweats and is on the floor stretching. Alan is sitting at a computer off to the side of the room. Robert and Marsha are wearing tutus and practicing ballet together. We hear Winfred outside, hammering together the construction of the new house extension. The doctor puts a hand on Mitzi’s shoulder.

 

                                    DOCTOR:

            I’m so sorry.

 

                                    MITZI:

            Hm? About what?


                                    DOCTOR:

            That your husband died.

 

                                    MITZI:

            Oh, that…

 

                                    MARSHA:

            How is he, Doctor? Is he going to be okay?

 

                                    DOCTOR:

Uh, no. I’m afraid not. Death is something very few people bounce back from.

 

                        MARSHA:

Bummer.

 

                        DOCTOR:

I’m wondering. I hope I’m not imposing on you too much – could you tell me what his last few hours were like?

 

He puts pen to notepad, ready to take notes.

 

                                    MITZI:

Just a quiet evening at home. We watched the pilot of the new show he produced; “Bikini Cops,” then we changed clothes several times, and went to bed.

 

                        DOCTOR:

Uh huh. Did he say anything unusual during all this? Did he seem odd at all?

 

                        MITZI:

Well, let’s see. He did mention at one point that he thought he would probably die tonight.

 

The doctor is disinterested in this.

 

                                    DOCTOR:

            Uh huh. Anything else? Anything unusual?

 

                                    ALAN:

            Isn’t that unusual?

 

                                    DOCTOR:

No, no. We get that all the time. IF you had any idea how many people claim they’re going to die at some particular time –

 

                        ALAN:

But he did die, tonight! After he said he would.

 

                        DOCTOR:

Look! Who’s the doctor here, anyway?

 

                        ALAN:

You do know the cause of death, don’t you.

 

                        DOCTOR:

Oh, yes, yes, of course.

 

                        ALAN:

Well…

 

                        DOCTOR:

Well, what?

 

                        ALAN:

How did he die?

 

The doctor’s mind is obviously racing.

 

                                    DOCTOR:

            He…he, uh, was…gored, by a, by….by a woodchuck.

 

                                    ALAN:

            What?

 

                                    ROBERT:

            Oh, what a way to go!

 

                                    ALAN:

            How could he have been gored by a woodchuck?

 

                                    DOCTOR:

It happens very rarely, but when it does, death is instantaneous.


                        ALAN:

Are you absolutely positive this is how he died?

 

                        DOCTOR:

Well, not absolutely.

 

                        ALAN:

Are you certain that a woodchuck was involved at all?

 

                        DOCTOR:

Well, one might have been.

 

                        ALAN:

Do you have any idea how he died at all?

 

                        DOCTOR:

Not really, no.

 

                        ALAN:

Then how can you go around saying he was gored by a woodchuck? What kind of doctor are you, anyway?

 

                        DOCTOR:

Well, I’m not a doctor, really.

 

                        MITZI:

Not a doctor!

 

Gasps from all around.

                                    ALAN:

            Then what are you?

 

                                    DOCTOR:

I’m a writer. Please don’t be mad at me. I have this film script. All I need is money to make this movie. I swear, it’ll be great. It’s called, “Surf Boxer.” It has action, adventure, and sex, and –

 

                        MITZI:

Get out of this house, you un-wealthy person. Alan, take him away.

 

                        ALAN:

Come on, out you go.

 

Alan grabs him by the collar and drags him toward the door.

 

                                    DOCTOR:

            I swear, it’ll be a big hit. All I need is money.

 

And the door slams in his face.


Peter Wick

September 14, 2023

Saturday, July 15, 2023

117 - SAGAFTRA on strike!

 In the mid 1990s I did a lot of Extra work. I don't even know what the Union/non-union rules are for studio films these days, but in the 90s you could work a big budget studio film as a non-union Extra, as long as the the film began each day with the required number of SAG (Screen Actors Guild) Extras. Those of us who were working lots of non-union Extra jobs, started to get to know each other. We all had the same goal in mind. What was that goal?

Those three 'SAG Vouchers.' If you could  convince a shoot to keep you on for another day - maybe a day when they were planning to hire only ten SAG Extras - because they needed to match the shot you were in, you might get a 'SAG Voucher.'

Three SAG Vouchers and you qualified to join the Union.

I got my first one on Forrest Gump.

The memory is a little hazy now, but I believe I got my second one on a film called SFW Starring Stephen Dorf. The third one was for Jimmy Hollywood, a Joe Pesci, Christian Slater film, written and directed by Barry Levinson.

I was thinking about that film recently when I watched the Hulu series Dopesick. I noticed that Barry Levinsoon - who is 81 now - co-produced Dopesick, and directed the first two espisodes.

This inspired me to give Jimmy Hollywood a watch recently, for the first time since the 90s.





I'm proud to say that I briefly shared the screen with Joe Pesci and Christian Slater. In the top picture, that's me right in between them, standing in the background (that's an unusually BLOND Joe Pesci), and in the second picture I'm in the foreground, with Christian Slater and a little of Pesci's blond in the background. This was me playing the part of, well...an Actor, at an audition. That was the scene. I was going over some lines I needed to audition with.

So, you ask, what's the point?

The point is Actors are on strike.

A couple months ago I posted here in support of the WGA writers strike. The writers being on strike by themselves felt a little bit lonely. I hate to admit the power of celebrity, but having the actors join the writers - with personalities like Matt Damon speaking out from the picket line - does feel a little more powerful.

A week or so ago, before SAGAFRTA joined the writers on the picket line, I read a comment from one producer that their goal with the writers was to "Break the Guild."

I don't think I have to interpret this for you. 

Pure evil!

This strike is having an impact. It has to reshape the entertainment industry.

Solidarity!

Peter Wick

July 15, 2023

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

116 - An Open Letter to Duolingo

 Duolingo...Fermati...Stop! Just stop!

You're getting really annoying!

In the three years I've used you, slowly building up my ability to offend someone in Italy, I have never done even seven days in row. Never.

Yet, you go on and on about my 'streak.' "You're on an 18 day streak," you like to brag. "No, I'm not," I say to no one, since you can't hear me. "I have taken at least two, maybe three days off during those 18. You're just so obsessed with streaks that you fake it through the days I don't show up. You 'freeze' my streak, so it looks like I've done many days in a row, when in reality I've done just two or three days in a row."

"Don't lose your streak!" you shout (I know it's only a message, but it seems like shouting).

"I already lost my streak," I say back. "I never had a streak. I don't want a streak. I refuse to have a streak. I will never have a streak."

I know this is beginning to sound vindictive and petty, but that's just how annoyed I am with you.

Oh, and what the hell is "XP" anyway? I don't actually care what XP is, so you don't have to answer the question.

I'm not using Duolingo to play games. I don't play games. I'm not a game person. Well...I play soccer and chess, but I don't play the kinds of games you're trying to make Duolingo feel like.

I just want to spend five minutes, maybe five nights a week, working out simple Italian sentences, so when I land in Milan I can offend all the local soccer ("Calcio") fans by calling AC Milan and Inter Milan, "Escrementi." (Then, of course I will be beaten within an inch of my life, and the Juventus jersey I'm wearing will be torn into tiny strips.)

And....

Let's move on to the weird sentences you sometimes use.

A recent lesson I did had the following sentence:

"Non ho i tuoi pantaloni."

"I do not have your pants."

Did anyone stop to think about when the hell I am going have to say this? What is the circumstance, the situation, where I will have to know how to say, "I do not have your pants"?

Where am I, and what has just happened, that makes me have to say this? And who am I talking to? You need to think about these things before you put an Italian lesson together.

It's like the old Monty Python translator sketch, where John Cleese is learning butchered English and says, "My hovercraft is full of eels."

Hey, that's an idea, what is "My hovercraft is full of eels," in Italian?

Eureka! I have it:

Il mio hovercraft e pieno di anguille!

Hm, weird, seems like there is no Italian word for 'hovercraft.' Maybe I'll switch back to pants. Il mio pantaloni e pieno di anguille!

I apologize if this letter comes across too angry. I'm not really angry, just annoyed.

You would be too...if your pants were full of eels.

Peter Wick

June 14, 2023