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.



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



            Everything’s on the level, then?



            Yes, yes, no foul play.



            I guess that’ll be it, then.



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



Okay, I’ll take off, though. See ya.





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




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.



            I’m so sorry.



            Hm? About what?


            That your husband died.



            Oh, that…



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



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






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.



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.



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



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


The doctor is disinterested in this.



            Uh huh. Anything else? Anything unusual?



            Isn’t that unusual?



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 –



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



Look! Who’s the doctor here, anyway?



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



Oh, yes, yes, of course.






Well, what?



How did he die?


The doctor’s mind is obviously racing.



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






            Oh, what a way to go!



            How could he have been gored by a woodchuck?



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


Are you absolutely positive this is how he died?



Well, not absolutely.



Are you certain that a woodchuck was involved at all?



Well, one might have been.



Do you have any idea how he died at all?



Not really, no.



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



Well, I’m not a doctor, really.



Not a doctor!


Gasps from all around.


            Then what are you?



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 –



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



Come on, out you go.


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



            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.


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.)


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

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