Monday, November 14, 2016

#50 - The Ghost of Elections Past and Future

T'was the night before election day and everyone had gone to bed. Everyone, that is, except for Donald.

Donald had not slept in weeks. He sat restlessly on his gold-plated toilet wondering if he should use a laxative.

A face appeared in front of him. It was not a human face. It was a mysterious apparition that floated effortlessly in the middle of the room.

Donald blinked once, twice.

"Hello, Richard," the apparition said.

"R - Richard?" Donald repeated. "I'm Donald."

The apparition paused, looking slightly confused. It looked at a mysterious piece of paper that floated in mid air.

"You have been running on 'law and order'?"

"Y - yes," Donald said.

"You have been claiming there is a hidden vote for you? A 'silent majority'?"


"You have been keeping a list of enemies?"

"Well, sure," said Donald.

"You're Richard," the apparition said. "Richard Nixon."


"Sh - sh," the ghost calmly touched a hand to Donald's shoulder. "It's just a fact," the ghost said. "You are Richard Nixon."

"A f - a fact? What is that? I've heard of those, but never really got -"

"I know, I know," the ghost said with a sigh. "Facts are difficult to understand. I'll explain later."

"Who are you?"

"I am the Ghost of Elections Past."

"No! - No, it can't be. You aren't real. You're a figment of my imagination. It's because I haven't slept since 1993. You're a piece of undigested KFC. You can't be real!"

"I assure you, I am real, Richard."

"Donald! I'm Donald!"

"Calm down, Richard. It's okay."

"Why are you here?"

"I'm here to show you the past."

"No! Anything but th - "

But before Donald could finish his objection he and the ghost were whisked back tn 1998.

Donald saw his younger self sitting in a room with a reporter.

"What's this?" Donald asked the ghost.

"It's you, in 1998, doing an interview for People Magazine."

Then the younger Donald spoke; "If I ran I would do it as a Republican. They're the dumbest voting block in the world. I could go out there and lie and they would eat it up."

"No! I never said that."

"Donald! The ghost looked sternly at him. "Donald, we just saw you say it."

"But - "

"Shut up. You said it. You can't keep pretending you didn't say things that you said."

Donald desparately tried to reach out to his younger self, but he was suddenly whisked back to the present.

He was again sitting on the gold-plated toilet.

"I really need a laxative," he said out loud to no one.

"I know how to shake your bowels loose," said a new mysterious voice.

Donald looked up, startled. A new apparition appeared in front of him.

"Hello, Richard," it said.

"I'm Donald."

"You want to know how we can shake those bowels loose, Richard?"

"How - who are you?"

"I am the Ghost of Elections Future."

"Oh, god, no. NO!"

"That's right, Richard, one glimpse of the future and your body will empty itself out like a popped balloon."

"It - it can't be that bad. I have such a good brain."


"I'm Donald."

"You're Richard. Accept it. You will be the most erratic, emotionally immature, dishonest Preseident since Richard Nixon, and you know how THAT ended, right?"

"No...NO, it can't be!"

"It's true, Richard. There's only one way it can end."

"I'll change. I'll do better. I promise."

"Too late, Richard. It's too late." And the ghost began to disappear.

"Wait. Come back. Aren't we going to visit the future?"

"Fuck that," the ghost said. "I've already seen it. Too depressng to see it again. I'm out."

"NO! Come back. I'll change. I'll - "

But the ghost was gone.

"I promise, I'll do better." Donald sank to his knees. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

Then suddenly he realized he needed to sit back on the gold-plated toilet asap.

Peter Wick
November 14, 2016

Saturday, October 15, 2016

#49 - Happy National Cheese Curd Day

I’m not sure why I never thought of this before. A friend recently pointed out to me that there are many more national holidays than we actually celebrate.

For example, did you know that February 3rd is National Carrot Cake Day? July 30th is National Cheese Cake Day, and October 19th, a few days from now, will be National Seafood Bisque Day.

These holidays are all real. You can look them up on It turns out that anyone can submit an application to have a new holiday designated. Well, almost anyone. The website currently says that due to backlog they can only accept submissions from companies and organizations. So, sorry Freddy, you can’t apply on your own to have September 5th become National Freddy Day.

I’m intrigued by this new world opening up to me. I want to know more. There are a lot of days that have multiple things designated to celebrate.

January 2nd, the day after New Year’s Day, 2017, will be all of the following: National Buffet Day, National Cream Puff Day, National Personal Trainer Awareness Day (I will be sure to be aware of Personal Trainers on that day), National Science Fiction Day, and National Thank God It’s Monday Day (because it will be the first Monday in January). Not to be outdone, Friday, January 13th, a couple weeks later will be: National Peach Melba Day, National Rubber Ducky Day, National Sticker Day, Stephen Foster Memorial Day, and National Blame Someone Else Day (because it is the first Friday the 13th of the year).

December 16th, interestingly, is Barbie and Barney Backlash Day.

I am beginning to work on a list of my own holidays that I want to apply for. Everyone knows I am a huge soccer fan, and I think we need a day each year – even years when there is no World Cup….ESPECIALLY years when there is no World Cup) designated as Celebrate The World Cup Day. The world is descending into a frightening state, these days, and I am convinced that the promise of upcoming World Cups might be the only thing keeping the world from blowing itself up. Maybe we should designate International Play Soccer Instead of Blowing Up The World Day.

I just now realized that the month of my birthday, April, is National Humor Month. April is also: International Guitar Month, National Soft Pretzel Month, National Straw Hat Month, and National Welding Month.

I’ve been hitting the stand-up comedy open mics again recently, after not being on stage for a long time. I have been in and out of open mics a lot during my lifetime. Even when a comic is working clubs and getting paid, he or she will still use open mics to try out new material or just to ‘work out.’ We need a stand-up comedy open mic celebration. Too often open mic-ers have to do their jokes in front of an audience that consists mostly of other comics, rather than real audience members. I want to submit National Stand-up Comedy Open Mic Awareness Day (“appreciate the half-written joke – applaud the idea – encourage a rewrite of the punch line”).

The possibilities are endless. We might have an explosion of new holidays to celebrate.

Oh, just one last thought. November 8, 2016, will be National Don’t Run For President If You’re a Jackass Day.

-Peter Wick
October 15, 2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016

#48 - An Open Letter to Hackers

Dear Hackers;
Hi, it’s great to finally sit down and have a conversation. I mean, we aren’t really sitting in the same room together, and I don’t know how many of you there are, but I’m still glad we finally have a chance to talk.

I don’t know who all of you are. I know there is “Anonymous,” and “Gucifer,” and the Russians who hacked into the Democratic Party, and of course the North Koreans who hacked Sony a couple years ago. You may also include Wikileaks. I don’t think Edward Snowden is part of this conversation. He’s more of a whistle-blower who just happened to have access to classified material. There are many others who I haven’t mentioned, I’m sure. We don’t know who hacked the credit card system of Target and stole a lot of customers’ credit card numbers. A friend of mine was in that group…the group of people who had their credit card numbers stolen, not the group who did it.

I first became aware of you guys several years ago, the first time some funny things happened to an old bank account of mine. That was seven or eight years ago now, and I don’t even remember all the details anymore. That was also long enough ago that it probably makes you laugh to think back on those primitive hacking days.

Two years ago you hacked my Yahoo email account, forcing me to finally switch to Gmail. Friends of mine were getting emails saying they were from me, telling them that I was stuck in Greece and please send money. Most of my friends laughed when they got the email. “Peter’s email got hacked,” they all said uproariously. No one believed the email was real. Did you really think anyone would send money? I mean, come on. My friends are smarter than that. I did, though, start asking myself, “but what if I actually WERE stuck in Greece and emailed my friends for money?” It dawned on me that my friends would laugh it off the same way, and never send me any money.

Some of you, I know now, are embedded deep inside the Chase banking system. You know who you are, and Chase knows you are there, but they don’t seem too concerned. When I closed my Chase account a few weeks ago, the banker asked me why I was closing the account. “You guys are hacked,” I said. “They’re inside your system.” The banker was silent for a minute, and then said, “Well, we’re pretty big, you know.” I wasn’t sure if this was her way of saying, Well, we’re big, what do you expect? Maybe Chase is okay with your hacking presence, as long as you don’t mess them up TOO much.

Some of you have hacked into the U.S. Government. You’ve leaked private emails from former Secretary of State Colin Powell. You have, I’m sure, hacked into very important and ‘secure’ computer systems world-wide, and are just waiting for the right moment to do something diabolical and shocking.

I received a fraudulent email recently claiming to be from the IRS (I’m smart enough to know that the IRS doesn’t send emails). The email said I risked jail time if I didn’t send money owed due to ‘tax fraud.’ Maybe that wasn’t you guys. Maybe that’s not really hacking. I suppose that’s just old school scammers. So, if that was none of your doing, sorry. I don’t mean to tarnish your image.

You see, hackers, you are winning, as far as I can tell. I realize this now.

Sometimes I’m supportive of this. I do believe in exposing government secrets to some degree.

What worries me is that those who are trying to stop you seem to be failing. The only good news I can find in any of this, is that maybe you are keeping the technology industry honest. Maybe you are preventing the powers that be from totally taking over our lives.

If I could ask just one small favor, though; do you think you could hack into ALL the big Hollywood studios, and rig their numbers so they think they have to STOP making only sequels and remakes? If you could twist their numbers so it suddenly looks like NEW ideas are the hot new thing, CREATIVE concepts are the sure bet....that would make me feel a lot better about all the future times you plan to hack my emails and bank acounts.

-Peter Wick
September 15, 2016

Friday, July 15, 2016

#47 - The Trump University Course Catalog

The Trump University Course Catalog

            (A lot has been made of the fraudulent Real Estate University named after Mr. Trump. Few are aware, though, that for a short time it was intended to be a full academic institution.)

            Trump University is dedicated to bringing awesomeness to anyone who doesn’t want to be a loser, and then sending them out into the world to make the world less stupid!

Department of Winning So Good in Business:
            Hi, I’m Donald Trump, and I’m such an amazing business man. I’m so incredible. I might be the most amazing business man who ever lived. You’ll never be as great as me, but if you sign up for my business classes, you might at least get a chance to meet me and marvel at my charisma.

-The Art of The Swindle
            In this course we will take a closer look at the mysterious workings of the swindle; how to swindle someone without them knowing it; swindling your closest friends and family; and of course how to get swindled by me personally, and LIKE IT.

-How to Make Money by Going Bankrupt
            Many people mistakenly feel that bankruptcy is a bad thing. This course will explain how you can use bankruptcy to your advantage, and actually make money in the process, while leaving some other poor loser holding the bag.

Department of Psychology:
            At Trump University’s Department of Psychology, we basically point out how all this mumbo jumbo about mental health came from a bunch of weak cry babies who never learned to just suck it up

-The workings of the MIND….and why yours doesn’t
            In this course we examine Mr. Trump’s mind, and discover why everyone should think the way he does, because, you know, he just tells it the way it is.

-Sucking it up 101
            All this nonsense we’ve been hearing about ‘feelings’ comes from a lot of whiney liberal nerds. End of story.

Department of Journalism:
            Just kidding. Journalism is for sleazy sleaze balls.

Department of Science:
            At  Trump U. we have searched the world and hired only those Science Professors who are sensible enough to realize that Planet Earth is going to be just fine. There is no global warming. There’s no drought. The damn Environmentalists are alarmist crybabies. Animals are smelly pests who need to be eaten as fast as possible. Whenever you hear some so-called “Scientist” claim that things are going bad, just punch him the nose and give him a wedgey. If that doesn’t shut him up, steal his girlfriend, and push him back down to the ground. Just kidding, he doesn’t have a girlfriend, and he never got up off the ground after the first time you knocked him down.

            You will always be happy you spent your hard-earned, easily lost money at Trump University. You will come away with a Major in Greatness, and a minor in irresistible sexiness. The entire world will be jealous of you. Seriously. All those people who criticize you are just jealous whiners. Screw them!

Peter Wick

July 15, 2016

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

#46 - Drunk Brits!

Those who know me, know that I never miss a major soccer tournament. Once every four years I rearrange my life in order to watch all, or nearly all, World Cup matches.

There is no World Cup this year, but two other tournaments - The Copa America Centennario, here in the U.S., and The Euro Championships in France - are keeping me entertained. The game on the field is entertaining enough, but every once in a while the game of soccer offers a second form of entrtainment; marauding drunk British fans.

Before continuing, I should remind everyone that I come to my opinion of the British as someone who possesses some British blood myself. I also have a little bit of Scottish ancestory, though, and I'm pretty sure it's my Scottish side that forms most of my opinions of the British.

When I read about gangs of drunk loud-mouthed British fans clashing with riot Police in Marseille before England's opening match with Russia, I laughed, but it was that sad sort of laughter, a sort of 'here we go again' head-shaking laughter.

The next day, as Russia and England battled on the field to a frustrating 1-1 draw, fans from both countries began fighting each other in the stands.

A day after that England and Russia were warned to keep their fans under control or risk being kicked out of the tournament. France announced that it was considering banning the sale of alcohol anywhere within the vicinity of stadiums where England would be playing.

If you attend a Premier League game in England, you are not allowed to drink alcohol in your seat while watching the game.

I was thinking about all these things while watching the other tournament, The Copa America, last night, with Argentina battling Bolivia in my home town of Seattle. I had to settle for the television broadcast of the game, although I would have loved to be up in Seattle, at the stadium, watching Leo Messi in person, with one of those stadium over-priced beers in my hand.

The contrast is striking. As I wacthed the Argentina-Bolivia game it struck me that at no time during any of the previous Copa America games was there any incident of violence or "Hooliganism." In fact Copa America crowds - many of them from places as passionate about the game as anywhere in Europe (Brazil, Argentina, Mexico) were having a big happy party in the stadiums. When the camera passed one group of people holding, and sometimes spilling some of their over-priced stadium beer on each other, laughing it off the whole time, I wondered what made the two tournaments so different.

America certainly can't claim any high ground when it comes to violence. What makes our stadium crowds different?

Oh!  Then I realized what it was...

Drunk Brits!

Yep, that's all the explanation we need.

Bolt down your chairs. Stop selling alcohol. Lock the doors.

The drunk Brits are coming.

I wish I were a little more Scottish than I am. I'm going to need some serious protection from the drunk Brits when they read this.

-Peter Wick
June 15, 2016

Monday, May 16, 2016

#45 - Report from Planet Earth - May, 2016

Report from Planet Earth
Prepared by: Zorbatron Mega; embedded galactic researcher.
(With a slight apology to Douglas Adams)

Greetings from the third planet in the Sol system. I hope everyone is doing well back home on the home Planet. I’ve been embedded here on this small planet for a ‘year,’ as they call each of their trips around their star. I have been collecting information that will help us decide whether we can destroy this planet, and run the Galactic Bypass through this solar system.

After a year of observation and study, I am happy to report that we can destroy Planet Earth without a moment of regret.

While it is true that the planet is inhabited by a species of walking bipeds, called “humans,” I have come to the conclusion that, while they are undeniably “life,” they do not reach the intergalactic standard that would label them “intelligent life.”

Having said that, let me make one thing clear; humans THINK they are intelligent. They can talk and communicate among themselves (although the female of the species seems to be in unanimous agreement that the male of the species does not communicate well at all).

They use soft-tissue in their cerebral cortex, fueled by water, electricity, and something called caffeine, to formulate ‘thoughts’ (I use the word loosely), and these thoughts prompt them to speak. I have spent much of this last year trying to decide which is worse, what they refer to as thoughts, or their desire to speak their thoughts out loud.

As a species, they are builders. Humans have over-run the planet to such a degree, that they have had to build large cities, where people squeeze in close to each other, in tall buildings. They have some degree of technology, but rather than using their technology to advance their intelligence, they just use their many devices to watch cute cat videos. Of the more than seven billion of them that exist, a small handful are smart enough to warn the rest that they are destroying their own planet. Often, though, these few smart ones are criticized for their ‘doom-saying.’

And yes, it is true, humans are already destroying their own planet without our help. This is a big reason why I feel comfortable saying we can finish the job for them, blow the planet up, and build the Galactic Bypass.

Because there are a small handful of humans who are less dumb than most, I suppose we should save a small sampling of the species. We could transport a few scientists, a couple teachers, a writer or two, a couple other artists, and what is known as a “Professional Athlete,” to our home planet, in order to salvage the best of the species. The rest are of little value. They are all politicians, TV commentators, business people, religious leaders, and dictators of small countries. No big loss. I think it is more than enough to save about ten of these humans. With a fresh start on a new planet, they may even develop into a new and better version of themselves. With the proper help and guidance, they may even, someday, achieve some small degree of actual intelligence. Hey, don’t laugh, anything is possible if you dream big.

So, let’s get started. I have ten humans selected for transportation already. Once they are on their new journey, we can blow planet Earth to smithereens, and build the Galactic Bypass.

Wonderful new days are ahead.

I’m excited.

-Peter Wick

May 16, 2016

Friday, April 15, 2016

#44 - May 5th; A National day of...Prayer/Reason/Drinking

I don’t know how I missed it, but apparently May 5th has been, for several years now, a “National day of prayer.” People around the country honor the day, both inside and outside of government, regardless of the fact that we as a country do not, in theory anyway, establish any particular religion as the “National” one.

In response, California state Representative Mike Honda (representing the Silicon Valley area), has introduced a new bill to declare the same day, May 5th, a “National day of reason.” It isn’t right, he believes, that everyone is required to honor a day of prayer, since we as a country do not require religious belief. His ‘day of reason’ balances the spirit of the day with a thoughtful, non-religious twist.

I think this is an interesting idea, balancing prayer with reason, but what really makes me stop in my tracks and twist my head sideways is that the two groups are fighting over a day that has already been well established as Cinco de Mayo, an International day of binge drinking.

I’m not suggesting that these three things are completely unrelated. Prayer and binge drinking can go together naturally - “Oh God, please let me stop puking!” - but it sets up a three-way battle, and I think everyone already knows the winner.

I did a little reading about the history of Cinco de Mayo. Many people think it is a celebration of Mexican Independence Day. It’s not. That happens in September. Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of a Mexican victory over French forces in a single battle, and it is so insignificant historically, that the holiday is virtually ignored in Mexico itself.

This is where American drinkers come in. Americans barely need an excuse to binge drink. I’ve spent many St. Patrick’s Days wondering how many drunk celebrators are neither Irish or catholic. On Cinco de Mayo, it’s safe to bet that most of the loud, slurring, stumbling partiers, are not Mexican at all. They just like to celebrate. WHAT they celebrate is secondary.

This gets me thinking again about the same day being a day of prayer and a day of reason.
I support the idea of the day of reason but, unlike prayer, I’m afraid the binge drinking gets in the way. It would be almost impossible to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, get shit-faced drunk, and then try to be reasonable and thoughtful.

I want to see someone try, though. It might be fun to watch. The thoughts, comments, and ‘reasonable’ observations people make after a half-dozen shots of tequila are worth remembering; “Dude, you ever really look at your hand? I mean, really fucking LOOK at it?” “Mexicans are okay by me, man. I mean, they invented tequila, they CAN’T be as bad as Trump says.” “Dude, check out that girl…no she’s fighting with him, they’re breaking up…Dude, I’m going to save her night, fuck the boyfriend, I’ll help her dump him.”

As for praying and drinking, I expect these two things happen together all the time. In addition to the prayer listed above, I want to offer a few other prayers that will be natural and appropriate on the “National Day of Prayer,” that is also Cinco de Mayo:

1.       Please God, get this drunk asshole off of me.
2.       God, make him shut up before I stab him with this fork!
3.       Oh, God, not another shot of tequila!
4.       God dammit! Where did I park my fucking car?!

And the next morning’s always popular…

5.       Oh God, please make it not be 6 o’clock already! Fuck!

Peter Wick

April 15, 2016

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

#43 - Fools

“The first thing you learn in life is you’re a fool. The last thing you learn in life is you’re the same fool.”

A character named Leo Auffmann said that, in Ray Bradbury’s book, “Dandelion Wine.” Bradbury wrote the book in 1957. He had already made a name for himself as a Science Fiction writer with “The Martian Chronicles,” and “Fahrenheit 451.” Then he wrote this delightful book about a 12 year old boy discovering what it means to be alive.

When I read the line it resonated in a personal and humbling way. I have learned over the years that I am a fool. I have also learned over and over, that I am the same fool. It is impossible to have any small semblance of self-awareness and NOT learn this simple, humbling truth.

It doesn’t have to be depressing. You can learn that you are a fool, and still have the confidence to proceed in life.

When I watch and listen to the fools running for President, I am struck by the thought that they, universally, have not learned this most basic lesson in life. They are fools. They don’t know it. We should all be wary of each and every one of them.

This is not to say that they are all equally foolish. Obviously some are worse offenders than others. I am making it a personal policy not to name names, but the ones who proclaim loudly and without a hint of irony that they are the greatest thing to come along ever, these people in particular are people we should run from as far and as fast as we can run.

Who then, you might ask, should we approve of? In a Democracy, who should we vote for?
I haven’t figured out the answer to this question.

There are those who have a long standing policy of voting AGAINST. They vote against whoever they dislike the most. They don’t particularly LIKE those who they vote for, but they rationalize their vote by saying, “Better than so and so.”

I’m not convinced. Anytime you vote, you are, by default, voting FOR someone. Voting for someone implies that you support them. You approve of that person being in a position of power.

I am no longer certain if I can ever approve of anyone who would run for political office. I cannot, in good conscience, approve of anyone who thinks they should be President. I am beginning to think that the desire to run for President automatically disqualifies you from the job.

Perhaps I am suffering from a loss of faith, but I no longer support politicians. As a group, they are people to be disdained and disapproved of.

They consist of ‘the bad,’ and ‘the worse.’

They are fools, and they don’t know it.

I think the rest of us are all too aware of it.
-Peter Wick
March 15, 2016

Monday, February 15, 2016

#42 - VOTE for the Absurd Ideas Party!

I keep trying to avoid politics, but we have entered the 2016 primary season, and politics dominates the conversation.

I have been giving it serious consideration, and would like to announce that I am throwing my hat into the political ring for the second time in my life.

The first time was in college, many years ago, and I ran for student council on a solemn promise that if elected I would immediately resign from office. The campaign was not my idea. It was my editor on the student paper who suggested I run. As reporters we had been writing about one student council member after another resigning from office. I can’t remember why, some silly college version of controversy surrounding these council members.

On top of that, new elections were coming up, and only five candidates were running for six council positions. We were reporting on it, and laughing throughout the newspaper office about the dysfunctional state of our college’s student government.

After agreeing to the preposterous candidacy, I had my picture taken and saw it run on the front page of the paper next to the headline, “Wick announces candidacy; if elected, promises to resign immediately.”

It was strictly a write-in campaign. We weren’t able to get my name onto the official ballot, but we figured that with only five candidates running, any write-ins for me, should actually get me elected, right? Then I would fulfill my promise to resign.

The elections came, and I was informed that I had received ten write-in votes. I won, right? With six positions open, and the five official candidates elected, I had received the next highest number of votes. I should be elected to the sixth council seat.

As it turns out, the college didn’t buy into the joke. I was never allowed to be sworn in as a student council member. I was never allowed to honor the votes of my ten loyal supporters. I was never allowed to fulfill my promise to resign immediately after being sworn in.

I hope to do better this time.

I am inspired by England’s “Monster Raving Looney Party.” This is a real party that has been around for 50 years in England. Their official websites simply lists their motto as, “Vote for insanity.” Sound advice, if you ask me.

So, I am declaring my candidacy for President, of the “Absurd Ideas Party.”
Our motto? “You’re voting for insanity anyway, just admit it and make it official.”

A few of our key platform policies:

-Rather than a standing army, we propose that all foreign enemies be dealt a harsh, biting, cutting dose of extreme sarcasm. We believe sarcasm is what has been missing from the foreign policy debate up to now. Taliban, Iran, ISIS, even some in Russia had better develop thick skin and fast, because we are going after your weakest defense; your sense of humor!

We do believe the wealthy should pay more, but they won’t have to do anything on their own. We intend to access their bank accounts and steal their money. That will be our new tax policy; steal from the rich. As for Robin Hood’s follow-up to that (giving to the poor) we’re thinking about it. We haven’t decided yet.

We at the Absurd Ideas Party will be releasing new policy statements on other issues of national and international irrelevance very soon. We are preparing a statement outlining our proposal to relocate all chinchillas to Lichtenstein. In the meantime, please remember that we can’t get onto any official ballots. So, again, this is strictly a write-in campaign.

See you at the ballot box.
-Peter Wick
February 15, 2016

Friday, January 15, 2016

#41 - Awards Season! - January, 2016

Awards season in L.A. is a funny period of time. We’ve had the Golden Globes and the People’s Choice Awards already. Coming up are the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Critics’ Awards, the Directors and Producers Guild Awards, then my favorite, the Film Independent Spirit Awards, and of course the Oscars.

Everyone in L.A. both loves and hates this whole time of year.

I am qualified to vote in the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Film Independent Spirit Awards.
For the record, it doesn’t matter where you live as you read this, anyone reading this right now, could vote in the Spirit Awards. All you have to do is pay your $95 yearly membership fee to Film Independent, and presto, you get to watch free films.

There are so many screenings happening for free, there is not enough time in the day to attend them all. As I write this I could be arranging to screen a dozen films over the upcoming 3-day weekend, but in reality I will skip most of them.

I have no connection to the Oscars, but I’ve talked to several people who do, and they all seem to share a love/hate relationship with the whole process.

Maybe the reason is that in the end it only sort of matters, which means that it also sort of doesn’t matter who wins, who loses, who is ‘snubbed,’ or who is a surprise winner.

20 years ago I worked for two days as an Extra and a Stand-in on ‘Forrest Gump.’ I had an insignificant 2-day job, and none of the important people on that film will ever remember my presence. I was hired to be one of the ‘All-American’ college football players that meets President John F. Kennedy, and when I arrived was also given the behind-the-scenes job of standing in Kennedy’s place while the lighting crew set up the lights. I will go to my grave, though, proudly boasting that I worked on one Oscar winner. But I recently googled the other nominees from that year and discovered what I had forgotten. The far superior ‘Shawshank Redemption’ lost out to Gump, and that is all you need to know about the Oscars. Winning means nothing. Winning probably means you were the second or third best film of that year (in 1969 Stanley Kubrik famously lost the Directing award for 2001 to Carol Reed and the musical Oliver).

I try to take the job of voting seriously. I mean, it’s important to me that Hollywood has some alternative way to gauge success besides the skewed value of box office numbers. But let’s be honest, it is a very flawed system.

I’m not going to name any names, or review any particular film, but I went to a screening recently, my first time inside the posh offices of CAA – one of the top, maybe THE top Agency in the business – at the Ray Kurztman theater (or is it Roy? Jay?). The film was, well, let’s say I just wasn’t buying into it. I thought it was 'okay,' but by no means a great film. I was so disappointed, because I like the guy who wrote the screenplay. I had high hopes for it. I left the screening frustrated at what passes for a 'great’ film.

A few days later the Oscar nominations were announced, and there it was, smack in the middle of the list of nominees for best film of the year.

I twisted my head a little and laughed.

Oh well, whatever, it doesn’t matter. The producers are happy, I guess.

It’s still better to have awards than not.

I’m always surprised at how many people have not heard of the Spirit Awards. I’ve been watching them for years. They happen Saturday, the day before the Oscars, and they’re more watchable because no one dresses up (I’ve always felt that I could never go to the Oscars, because I would be sure to vomit directly on someone’s $20,000 gown).

So….watch the Spirit Awards. Then skip the Oscars. No, wait, Chris Rock is hosting. I guess I could handle watching some of the show to see him.

Just know that there’s one film on that Best Film list that, if it wins, I’ll be laughing at the absurdity of it all.
-Peter Wick

January 15, 2016