The Nitty Gritty

But more than all of those I am an entertainer. I carry around a ukulele with me for the same reason a gangster carries a gun; better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Stage or sidewalk, Your Pal Pete shows are just where they happen.
Currently, I'm working on a musical, RagnaPOP(or she's got the bomb), set to premiere at this year's Capital Fringe Festival. I'm also working on music, comedy, and musical comedy; for kids and/or adults.
The fruit of these projects will be available on this site, so check back regularly!

Friday, June 30, 2006

I wanna be a super hero!

I, like countless little boys and girls, wanted to be a superhero. A child’s sense of reality can easily allow for the possibility.

Going to my kindergarten, we used to pass a laboratory situated on the town’s major avenue. At the core of many of my favorite superheroes origin was a lab, or at least a lab mishap. I was convinced that I could get the scientists inside to provide me with a “super serum” to allow me the super powers that I already realized would never come naturally. It didn’t occured to me that if these scientists could make superpowers that they would fly to work themselves. I felt the same impulse I would get by driving past Dairy Queen. “Stop, Mom, stop there,” I wanted to plead. But I never did. My mom could never understand why I’d want want to devote my life to crime fighting, could she?

The ads in the back of comic book provided the possible ingredients. X ray vision glasses, tear gas guns, Anvil wrist band for super strength! But there was nothing to provide my most coveted superpower, flight. My love of Mountain Dew and sour cream and onion potato chips always kept my savings well below the $9.98 plus shipping and handling required the get the meager gadgets that my reality still believed could exist. They couldn’t say that the X-ray glasses work if they didn’t, could they? Ah precious youthful ignorance.

All those cape-clad dreams become corrupted by knowledge and self consciousness and that youthful energy becomes focused away from saving the world and more towards love and other self destructive activities.

In my dreams, though, I can fly. It varies from dream to dream, sometimes into power lines and sometimes it’s just jumping really high and sometimes Its only about 20 feet off the ground. But I don’t fight crime, I elude the marauding monsters that roam through my subconscious.

Goodbye, Stan Lee, hello Sigmund Freud!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Interview questions for Superman.

I started thinking about this when I saw the Lego version of the “Superman Returns” trailerlego supermanThe thing is with Superman is that he’s not really brave as much as moral. Unless someone has a fistful of kryptonite, he can’t be hurt physically. A mountain could fall on him and he would be merely annoyed, while nearly every other superhero would be just, um, dead.

Superman takes a lot of shit for being such a goody-goody and following his moral compass like he was Magellan, but this is probably a good thing. The wholesome midwestern and intergalactic values of his two sets of parents is what keeps his from robbing banks or from, at the very least, throwing people who piss him off into the Sun.

His true weakness is his love of humanity, though I hear he’s also touchy if you make a crack about his boots. Most of the nefarious plots that he has to foil involve threats against large groups of people, countries, continents, often the very planet Earth himself, but he is there to foil without question.

But I’ve got a couple questions for the man of steel that have yet to be answered:
1. Do you have to go to court whenever a criminal you catch goes to trial? Do you have a more conservative outfit for those occasions?

2. Do you ever get any shit from the FAA to wear a transponder so air traffic controllers can track you?

3. When you have sex do ever worry about getting caught up in the moment and accidentally crushing your partner?

4. Do you ever do super stuff to earn extra scratch like demolish buildings? If you don’t, is it because you’re afraid of the Teamsters?

5. When your flying across country do you use a map to find your way or do you occasionally fly into say, Omaha, to ask for directions?

Supe, hit me up whenever.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Things I've never understood about women.

link to the previous post.
Things I've never understood about men

I feel I need to start this with a huge disclaimer, because I hate being misunderstood. Women have been an endless source of joy and inspiration to me. They are the most beautiful things in the entire world, by a huge margin and I truly believe that.

The best thing about women is that they’re attracted to men, at least most of them are. I don’t know why they want our hairy, smelly, birthday forgetting asses, but they do, God(ess) love ‘um. But the older I get, the less I know about them.

The problem can be best illustrated in the reaction I get when ever I say, “I’ve noticed something about women...” to a woman. More times than not, the gaze will tighten, the upper lip, preparing to be offended. It’s like If I cross an invisible line of insensitivity with my observation, the full fury of feminine ire will be unleashed upon me for my transgression. Which has never happened, I’ve been able to defuse with the power of my insight. O.K. not EVERY time.

So running the risk of offense...

Why women are so hard on other women- Some of the meanest things I’ve ever heard anybody say about anyone were women talking about their female friends. I suppose it helps us men that women don’t organize their considerable collective power to take the world over from men, but it seems so needless. However , if this does happen, I’m more than willing to be used as a tool of procreation by the new female overlords.

Ultimatums- It is a concept we’ve all been been through, or know someone who did: After a long courtship, one party wants to take the relationship to the next level, while the other party is more reluctant. Non-reluctant partner issues an ultimatum, either do it or I leave. In most cases it’s the woman delivering it.

Nobody likes to be threatened and pressured into big decisions, and do you honestly want to build the rest of your future on a threat? What you might not realize is your setting a time bomb of resentment for the future where they blame you for it later.

What’s worse is when the bluff is called and nothing becomes of it. One of the truest rules of human behavior is if you don’t have consequences from your decisions, you have no reason to believe that you’ve done anything wrong.

Here’s the way to do it: communicate your needs to your mate in a non-combative way. If they don’t respond to your satisfaction, break up with them. No ultimatum, just break up. That way they have time to live without you and reflect on what they’ve done. If they really want to be with you the way you want, they’ll come back. And it’ll truly be their decision.

Faking Orgasms- Women have told me it can sometimes be a power move, but you’re just shooting yourself in the foot here. I’ll point to the rule of human behavior I illustrated in the last observation. If your intimate enough to rub genitals together, you should be comfortable enough to say, “look, I’ve had a good time, but I need to get some sleep.”

The emotional double standard- Women are the more sensitive and emotional gender, but they don’t hold the monopoly.

To be fair, this has manifested itself quite a bit in my relationships, but it happens with such startling regularity, I have a hard time believe I’m dating everyone that does this.

We men have to apologetically deal with the fall out when we step on the psychic land minds laid out of sight by other men, ex-boyfriends, lovers, fathers, what have you. But if a man , even unintentionally, relates to his significant other to someone from his past, BOOM!

Forgiveness- (Definition from the Princeton Dictionary)2.the act of excusing a mistake of offense. Not saving said offense for use in a later argument. I’ve always said that every woman I’ve ever dated should become a doctor because they never let anything fuckin’ die.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Veterans of Politically Correct Warfare:Retail Division

As I have occasionally mentioned, I’m currently in the middle of writing “Surviving Retail”, my collection of anecdotes, observations and lessons learned in my extensive retail career. I wanted to save all of my retail stuff for the book and give the blog my more general witticisms, but a conversation with a friend changed my mind and kick a little retail flavor your way.

The Toy Store, my last job, was full of kind people who were a joy to help, and I mean that sincerely. But the air of political correctness let to people raising their hackles over the weirdest things. It seemed like half of everybody tried really hard not to offend anyone, while the other half is waiting for you to offend them, sometimes people do that at the same time. It didn’t help that we had a reputation of being a politically correct store, which I didn’t think we did much to encourage other than not carrying the junior Paris Hilton dolls, also known as Bratz.

Including but not limited to:

SSX Tricky-this snowboarding video game was my favorite when it came out so I made sure it was always in stock. I was ringing a lady up and she saw it over my shoulder.
“I can’t believe you sell that!”, she blurted as she grabbed her bag to leave. I looked behind me, even then I wasn’t even sure what she was pointing at. The only game that wasn’t totally kid-like, was Tricky. The game itself had no questionable content, other than the occasional knocking over of the other player. The thing that probably got her goat was the ample chested (and fully clothed)snowboarder on the front of the box with 2 male snowboarders. that and changing the second S to an E. I could see that, If I was trying to hard to be offended. But I had to be sure.
I asked,”The...snow...boarding game, rated E for everyone?”
Her face changed suggesting the realization that she may, in fact, be wrong, but her words didn’t suggest it at all.
“um, Yeah!” with that, she quickly left.

Fun Capsules- the little shaped sponges that they stuff in little gelatin capsules, the ones that Bart bought with the money he got from selling his soul to Milhouse. Put um in warm water and the dinosaur pops out of it, awesome if you’re six years old.

Anyway, these innocuous little things caused a older woman to take my boss aside.
“I wanted to tell you I don’t approve of you selling those. I’m not going to say they’ll stop me from shopping here, but it’ll certainly influence my decision.”
My boss was confused, “I’ve been selling these of fifteen years, with no problem.”
“They’re saying capsules are fun, like selling candy cigarettes!”

Trout Fishing in America- A great jokey kids group that write songs from a kids point of view, in stark counterpoint of most over earnest kids music. I played them in the store all the time. One grandmother recognized it playing. “Is this that Trout Fishing band?”
“Yes, it is.”
“You should not sell that kinda stuff, they talk about how vegetables are yucky and how they don’t want to share.”
“They write from a kid’s point of view a lot,” I said.
“They should be trying to teach good messages.”
“Isn’t that why they have parents?”

Black joke soap- Me and a lady looking for a small gift for a 10 year old.
Me: ”They love pranks at that age, you can get a whoopee cushion, the soap that turns your hands black, the classic spring snakes in a nut can....””
Lady:”Hold on, black soap, isn’t that a little politically incorrect.”
Me:”It’s black soap, not african-american soap. Black is a color”

Guillotine card game- We caught much shit for this game, which is highly recommended by the way. The players are rival guillotine operators during the French Revolution. You try to collect the noblest heads, but there is no blood or actually head chopping in the game at all. You may as well be cutting their hair.
But people still got prickly. I tried to explain once that the game is for kids 12 and older, by that time they’ve read “Tale of Two Cities” , then the woman stopped me,“And by then, I guess, they’re immune to violence!”
“I was going to say they’re familiar with what the guillotine is used for from that.”

Thursday, June 22, 2006

the most unintensionally funny stage patter I've ever heard.

Circa 1991
When I lived on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, my then roommate worked as a light guy at Scandal’s in Ocean City. Consequently, I went to a lot of shows he worked. The Loft, The Faith(not the Dischord band) and Y-Not, among others, played there regularly and they all had the same basic M.O. They all started off as cover bands that got uppity and started writing their own songs.

They approached the craft of songwriting like “musicians”. Drummers would kick the overly complicated groove while the bass line snapped and popped in the style of the time. Together they laid down a rhythm that was as bleached white as Pillsbury dough but not nearly as funky. The guitarist played complex chords that took his fingers to all the different corners of the fretboard. The singer would sing what he hoped were meaningful lyrics like, “We’re gonna change the World and that’s the truth.” and “can’t breath the air, can’t drink the water, gotta save the world, for all our Sons and Daughters”. He also would have acoustic guitar that he’d bust out occasionally, but not too much because it would cut into their valuable emoting time with the ladies in the front row.

My least favorite of all these band was Y-Not. Perhaps not coincidentally, they were by far the most popular.

Anyway, enough setting the scene. Y-Not was playing in front of OCs most inebriated and the singer had a question for the crowd that he delivers with a sincerity that verges on Bono-esqe.
“Ocean Cit-ay, lemme ask you something,” crowd goes nuts. “If you spill something at home,are you going to use a paper towel?”crowd goes nuts again. The singer shakes his head disapprovingly,”No people, you gotta use a rag, it’s better for our Mother Earth. This is a song about her, this is ‘Rescue Me’!” Crowd goes B-fucking-nannas.

I should have moved to DC right then. I would have been poor, but I could have seen Nation of Ulysses and Chisel before they broke up. But as I often say, Fate plays a funny game with us all.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Open letter from Scott Stapp to the other members of Creed

Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely satirical.

Dear Mark,
I’m addressing this to you because out of all the other guys in Creed, I felt closest to you. Our bond was forged when we started writing together. With the tunes we wrote together, “My Own Prison”, “Higher”, “With Arms Wide Open” I could go on, but you know what I mean. Bro, we didn’t just make music together, we made history!

I wanted to write and ask you guys if you wanted to get Creed back together.

Look, hear me out. I know things have been tense for a while, and I apologize if I’ve caused you guys any pain, especially Brian. Bro, I’m sorry, I realize now I was just being a sanctimonious prick when I had you kicked out of the band for dissing Pearl Jam. We went through a lot of shit in the trenches when we were just Rock Soldiers and between the awards and sold out shows, I lost sight of that. Forgive me.

I was on the RIAA website, just in the neighborhood, and do you know we sold 24 million records? Well of course you do, you have the gold and platinum records too, but that’s not what I'm talking about. We’ve sold more than the Police, Motley Crue and the Beastie Boys, and we did it with just 3 records!

We could create that magic again if we could just put aside our differences and looked at the bigger picture, the world needs us now more than ever. We lifted people up, we gave them a reason to believe, we justified their faith in Rock and Roll. We didn’t break up because we weren’t needed anymore, we broke up because we lost sight of our mission, and got caught up in our Rock Star Fantasy.

Phillips, remember when we rocked on top of the Hard Rock Hotel that one New Years Eve for that T.V. special? That was such a cool show, playing “Higher” while those rad fireworks going off all around us. I remember something you said in between our two post show Jager shots, “We took THOSE fuckers higher tonight!” I fined you $50 bucks for using the F word, but you were right. We took everyone higher.

I heard about the fight you guys had the Living Things and they were wrong to bash our president and our country, but the three dudes I moved the nations with would have fought with their rock power, not their fists. And we won every time. Except that one time when the dudes sued us.

I’ve never said this to anyone, but that fight I got into with 311 in Baltimore was because one of them told me that Creed was better. It was my fault, I had asked them how they liked my new song and I didn’t prepare for them to say that. But they’re right. But you guys can’t honestly tell me that what’s-his-nuts Alterbridge singer guy can fill my leather pants any better that my new band can fill yours, so let’s not kid ourselves.

I promise, I’ve changed. I won’t strike any more Jesus poses and I’ll let you do drugs and curse, all of the things I used to fine you guys for. We can even skip the preshow prayer circle. I’ve learned my lesson. I mean, I’m opening up for INXS this summer, those are my big plans. At least I’m not doing State Fairs, but next year? It’s all in your hands.

So get in touch with me, I still have the same lawyer and you should have his number.


Scott Anthony Stapp

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Commercials that drive me fuck nutty!

I realize that’s the nature of the beast. The bad ones are insulting to anyone used to tying their own shoes or make you feel inadequate for not making the right choices as a consumer. Even the best ones grind down your appreciation with repetition, until you can’t figure our why you liked it in the first place (although I do still love the VW commercials with the creepy guy from Fargo).

These ones, I feel go beyond the beyond.

Rentway- When I used to work at a pawn shop, some of my friends gave me a lot of shit for it. “Places like that take advantage of desperate poor people,” they’d say, and they wouldn’t be that far off.

But in my opinion, rent to own places were much worse. They get you in by saying you can afford to rent electronics and appliances for just a few dollars a week, on your way to eventual ownership. They hope that this step towards perceived upward class mobility blinds the customer to fact that, by the time they pay it off, they’ll have paid three times what it was originally worth. And if they got behind....

Rentway in particular pisses me off because they use the song “We Are Family” in their ads. I wrote some more accurate lyrics to illustrate their business practices:

“We are Family/ until you miss a payment you see/ then we aren’t family/ all your shit is coming with me”

Boys Gone Wild- Ick, do I need to say anymore? I will anyway. It sounds like a SNL fake commercial, but.... Oh my God! I think it was! These guys seem to be pretty psyched to be exposing their wedding tackle on camera. I wonder if these real college dudes realize that they’d be watched by as many gay men as women.

The one good thing is that it makes me appreciate the fact that women are attracted to us at all.

Carbon Dioxide - I still can’t believe it, a public service announcement styled commercial for a gas? They say, "The fuels that produce CO2 (carbon dioxide) have freed us from a world of backbreaking labor, lighting up our lives, allowing us to create and move the things we need, the people we love," the ad runs. "Now some politicians want to label carbon dioxide a pollutant. Imagine if they succeed -- what would our lives be like then?"

Like it’s in danger of not being around? As long as there are animals exhaling and club soda you can rest easy, Competitive Enterprise Institute!

What, it’s an front for big oil? Funded by Exxon? I’m so disillusioned!

I also noticed ads recently where horrible, quasi-biblical things happen to the people who use the products being advertised. Why should I buy Juicy Fruit gum if I run the risk of being attacked and dragged underground by an ant the size of a Mini Cooper? If you transform into a chicken from eating too many McDonald’s chicken sandwiches, do they think we’ll only eat them until we see feathers in the shower drain? Cracker, please!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

All I needed to know I learned from John Hughes movies

I was the perfect age for John Hughes movies from the 80’s. It perfectly blended candy colored teen angst and the slightly sophisticated (and sometimes suggestive) humor that fit the 80’s teen sensibility like a glove of understanding.

Teenage, that wonderful time in life when you’re know everything and your parents are idiots, before the bitter shot of adulthood reverses that belief. At least the me knowing everything part. Free of bills, jobs and rent, we could marinate in our ennui full time. Believing that our first love might be our last love and everything we did in high school was going to be on our permanent record. That was the canvas that John Hughes painted on, broad and heavy handed, but like no one else.

Everybody had a character that they most related to. For me, I wanted to be Ferris Bueller, but I was really more like Ducky from Pretty in Pink. I knew it years before I even saw it. I had missed it during it’s original theatrical run, but I heard from people that caught it that he was EXACTLY like me. As was my style at the time, it kept me from seeing it for years after, until I graduated high school. When I did, I could see what they were talking about. He was smart, but not as smart as he thought he was, or as cute as he though he was. It was like looking in a friggin mirror.

The comparison dogged my into my 20’s until I lost my hair. It happened so often that I started carrying a piece of paper that had “Jon Cryer, ‘Ducky’ from Pretty in Pink” written on it in my wallet. When someone would say, “Do you know who you remind me of?” I’d pull out the paper, and show it to them.
“Oh my God, How did you know?”

These days I relate most to the snotty waiter in Ferris Bueller because I too, “weep for the future”.

Some Kind of Wonderful, the last one of these, fucking pissed me off. The fact that Eric Stoltz spent the entire movie chasing Lea Thompson while the sexy as hell Mary Stuart Masterson was right in front of him, adoring his pasty ass, infuriated me to no end. Dude, she’s fuckin’ hot AND plays the drums. The only drawback was her love of fringed fingerless gloves but her obvious charm made it easy to overlook.

I got into a ginormous argument with my roommate at the time about my Mary Stuart-centricity. He said, “You must have a low-self opinion, you won’t even allow yourself to be attracted to the prettier girl.”
I countered, “As far as I’m concerned, I am.”

Anyway, the lessons, right.

1.If you live a life of abject conformity, rebellion is your key to happiness. (Molly Ringwald’s Clare hooking up with Judd Nelson’s Bender in the Breakfast Club/ the destruction of Cameron’s dad’s car in Ferris Bueller)

2.If you live a life of abject rebellion, conformity is your key to happiness. (Annie Potts in Pretty in Pink, Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club)

3. If you’re rich and popular, you’re an insufferable prick, obsessed with making members of the lower social strata feel like total shit. (James Spader in Pretty in Pink, Craig Sheffer in Some Kind of Wonderful, Robert Downey Jr and what’s his nuts in Weird Science)

4.Unless you’re surprisingly deep and complex. (Jake Ryan in Sixteen Candles, Emilio Estevez in the Breakfast Club, Andrew McCarthy in Pretty in Pink)

5.Dating beyond the static boundries of the click and popularity is the only way we, as a society can move forward. (jeez, all of ‘um really)

6. Parents have no idea what you’re going through. (Again, all of them)

7. Even nerds get laid. (Do I have to say?)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Videopolis-my acting debut

I shot a 5 minute pilot that my pal Francis Abbey wrote and directed called "Videopolis"
I play corporate drone Kenny.

Videopolis link

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Things that make me feel old.

Cliché become clichés because there's at least some truth in it, hackneyed as it might be. "You're only as old as you feel!" Most of the time I'm feeling young, mid 20's maybe. I'm actually a lot less self conscious than I was then, much more likely to spontaneously bust a move or sing in public than I would have ever allowed myself to in the mid 90's, But some times I feel every millisecond of my age (I'm 36 now). In order when they happened.

(age 20) I used to work at a dollar store(you know the kind where everything is $1) and a kid of about 11 came to the counter to buy one thing. I gave him his total "$1.05"
"But I thought everything was a dollar.", he said.
"There's sales tax."
He was flabbergasted, "Wow, I sure am disappointed!"
Then I unleashed this dusty favorite,"Well, if that's the most disappointed you'll ever be, you're lucky!"
Wow, I spotted him the nickel, by the way.

(age 25) I bought red pepper, even though it was a lot more expensive, specifically to add color to my salads.

(age 26) I was living in a de facto fraternity house, since everyone who lived there other than me belonged to the same frat. This meant that occasionally come home for work and find a few 19 year olds that I'd never met before hanging out in my living room.
I'd ignore them for the most part, but I had to interject one time one kid was talking about an unusual can of beer.
"It was all white and it just had 'beer' on it."
"Yeah, that was a generic beer", I said.
One of the other kids asked, "Generic?"
I then told them of the hallowed days, when vinyl "albums" were the norm and compact discs were an expensive luxury. Rick Springfield and Pat Benatar roamed like giants upon the Earth and FAME! we were going to live forever.

But it wasn’t all leg warmers and rainbow suspenders, we were going through some through some tough economic times. To fight this, companies introduced “generic” products, with no advertising or any product identification at all and passed the savings on to the consumers. The kids were beyond interested and I noticed that they began to form a semi circle around me, the wise old man. All that was was missing was the campfire.

(age 28) I had just gotten done mowing my lawn. I looked around and said to myself, “I could really use an edger.”

(age 33) Finding out that the guys in Outkast, who are practically lifetime achievement award recipients, were five years younger than me.

(today) On Gilmore Girls, Lorelai Gilmore has a daughter in college. Lauren Graham, who plays her, is only 3 years older than me.

Monday, June 12, 2006

I need coffee!

Overheard at Starbucks (not really)

Can you help me? I certainly hope so. I need coffee. What size? Forgive for me laughing at the quaintness of the choices you have presented, but even your “vente” is woefully inadequate against the lethargy that is holding my very soul hostage. What, dear soul, is the italian word for “colossal” or “gigantic”? I suppose it’s my own fault, imploring a humble coffee slinger for such a Herculean task. This is a job for the world’s foremost engineers. The men who have dammed the world mightiest rivers, that’s a start. I need a cup-o-joe so large, it needs it own international airport. A java so immense it needs to issue it’s own currency. One so enormous cream and sugar cannot simply be added, they must be able to orbit around it. Their trajectory will slowly decay until gravity proves victorious and they splashdown into the vast blackness of our caffeinated miracle. Can you do this for me? Can you? Fine, give me a vente.

Coming soon to "the Underachiever's Progress":My acting debut,"Videopolis" and "Things I don't Understand about Women", sequel one of my most popular posts "Things I've never understood about Men."

Thursday, June 08, 2006

My Psychic Review of Fast and the Furious:Tokyo Drift

Note and warning: I have not seen this movie, nor do I plan to, I've only seen the commercials. I've just seen enough of these kind of movies to guess the plot. All spoilers are coincidental.

A brash young man finds himself in Tokyo, for some reason probably related to his brashness. He is drawn into the world of drift racing, which I used to do with the hand brake on my Big Wheel back in the day.
He is introduced to this automotive subculture by a fellow gaijin, played by Bow Wow(no longer 'Lil). He's not so great at first, but after a getting-your-shit-together montage, he is a contender.
It's not all smooth sailing, though. Their is most certainly a very antagonistic antagonist, this being Japan perhaps a member of the Yakuza. His ire will probably raised by our hero's brashness, most likely losing a bet for a pink slip to a car he doesn't own. Or he could win but one of his boys dies. Regardless, I bet Bow Wow or the love interest dies(did I forget the love interest?) I wouldn't be surprised if she's a yakuza chick or at least has a disapproving brother.
This all leads to a climactic race that our hero wins at the last second.
But really, does the plot matter? This is like auto porn, the plot is weak, the acting stiff, but the scenes where the cars screw? Fantastic!
I saved you nine bucks, no need to thank me!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

If there's a war on Christianity...

..Then the Religious Right fired the first shot. They have every branch of of government under their influence and all you hear about is how persecuted they are. They should enjoy their time in the sun, if history has taught us anything, this kind of thing never lasts very long.

I didn't want to use this blog, as so many others have, to get political. I mean obviously, a political blog in DC, how unprecedented!

The war on Christianity is like the Gay Agenda, a ridiculous notion turned into a category 5 shitstorm by people who don't seem to any connection to the world I live in.

Which is fine, say what you will, regardless of it's ridiculousness. Lord knows I exercise that right often enough. It's when it influences public policy as much as it has recently that I have to put my foot down.

The separation of Church and State was created for the protection of both against the other. The founding fathers, a mixture of devoutly religious and more secular men (called Deists), created the establishment clause in the First Amendment to prevent various pushy religions for making parts of the United States a theocracy.

I could talk for hours about my opinion (remember those? That was before people, right and left, started treating them like they were facts.) that a lot of people who consider themselves Christians, act like anything but. But I won't. I'll just let what I believe is the definitive quote on the subject:"Give to Cæsar what is Cæsar's, and to God what is God's." Jesus Christ-Matthew 22:21
Can't get clearer than that. No? O.K., John 18:36: 'My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world."

I say the Religious Right and not Christians in general, because I have known many Christians who embrace the other elements of the true nature of Christianity, charity and humility. I don't see a lot of either in the current "faith-based" administration. You can't break something and hope God fixes it.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Adventures in stand-up comedy!

"You should be a comedian!"

I've heard it throughout my life, and (on paper) that would be a great career for me. I truly love to perform and make people laugh. I probably get that from being alone and bored growing up in the middle of nowhere before discovering the liberating power of the driver license. I believe it's called overcompensation, but I doesn't matter, I like that about myself.

The problem was influence, I was much more into making music for as long as I can remember. As much as I loved Eddie Murphy, I loved the Replacements more. They're both professions full of glory and heartbreak, but at least with music I had an instrument to protect me.

This didn't prevent me from keeping a modest notebook of stand-up ideas that I'd add to infrequently. It was kind of like a glacier of ideas, very slow in moving forward and occasional moving backwards when ideas ran past their expiration date (Sean Connery as O.J. Simpson, trust me, it killed!). Regardless of how comfortable I've been playing music by myself, I couldn't transpose that confidence to the stand up stage. But the desire to try still build up, and something had to give.

It came to a head October 2003. I had been researching open mics in the area for years, even getting the nerve to go to one, only to find out it didn't exist anymore. Through the internet, I found an active one in Dupont Circle here in DC and sent an e-mail to the host. She sent me one back saying I had a slot at the next show on October 7th.

But there was a problem. I found out the night before that the open mike was at a gay bar. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but most of my stuff was male/female, not relationship based. Fate, however, gave me a leg up but scheduling the California recall election the same day. One of the things that makes the Daily Show so great is that truth is truly stranger than fiction, if the last 6 years have thought us anything.

Before the festivities, I had a couple beers with a couple of the comics, just making small talk. I told them I was growing out my hair and beard temporarily because I was going to be Sean Connery that Halloween (It's called commitment to a bit), so I had the horseshoe of hair that aged me 10 year easily, and they told me recent gig horror stories. They were nice guys, but it was definitely different from any social situation I had ever found myself in. The smart assed comments that I often peppered my conversations with weren't met with a chuckle or a groan as I was used to, just a slight furrowing of the eyebrows, like they were examining what I was saying scientifically. It was probably the most humorless casual conversation I've ever had.

I sat upfront as the show started, just enjoying everyone's act. There were some genuinely funny people there, it made me really nervous for my turn in front of the brick wall. Most of the performers at music hootenannies were novice strummers, nervously playing "Friend of the Devil" or "Brown Eyed Girl" to varying degrees of success. But most of the people there were working comedians, using this as an opportunity to do hone their act. The only thing thing made me feel better was that they were as reliant on their comedic "set list" as I was going to be.

The time for my introduction was at hand, and I immediately fucked it up, missing the customary handshake with the host. I went into one of the bits that survived my revision, about my body hair.

"You know that little strip of hair underneath the belly button, the goody trail? Well mine turned into a four lane highway of fun...... with a back hair onramp!" I followed that up with a flash of the gut to drive my point home.

Then I got political about the recall election, "in DC we're so unimpressed, elect a crackhead governor and we'll talk." Nothing. I had heard Chris Matthews say some thing earlier in the day that I just had to make fun of.

"People keep accusing Arnold of groping, and he admits it, and it doesn't affect the polls. If he wins, this could signal a trend towards HONESTY in political campaigns"

I said," But you know they're gonna take it too far, eventually a candidate's going to say, 'I killed a hobo with my bare hands. That's the kind of passion I can bring to this office, in a non killing capacity."
"Remember me, the HOMO killing candidate!" Oooops. A loud “ooooohhhhhh” came up from the other comics and their friends that gathered at the front of the stage.

But I got a big laugh from the regulars of the place surrounding the corner bar, the look of absolute shock and horror on my face must have been priceless.

I wrapped up a bit early, I had done enough damage. I walked off stage like I had just gotten stuck on a runaway roller coaster. The host said I had good material, but delivered it too fast. One of the comics I talked to before suggested that I shave my head. “I do, I’m growing to be Sean Connery for Halloween like I said before. My whole life is a bit!

One guy said, “You stunk!” The host defended me, “No, you were fine.” I didn’t care either way, I loved the fact that somebody was honest about it.

I got the biggest thumbs up from the gay guys at the bar. I told one guy,“You know, that slip before....”
“Give me a break, that look on your face said it all,” he interrupted.

I also got positive reviews on my chest hair, inspiring an extra flash of the thatch. ”You’re what we call in the bidness a ‘bear’”, a term I had never heard before.
I asked,”the BIDNESS?”

I left the experience with a new appreciation for the art of stand up comedy. And no desire to do it again.

However I’ll leave you with this, if you love comedy, go see it live. From playing music and going to shows both comedy and music, you’re much more likely to have a good time at a comedy show. Besides, what would you rather see, somebody who thinks they’re cool or someone who knows they aren’t but couldn’t care less.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The future's not what it used to be...

"It was supposed to be like the Jetsons, it's not even like the Jeffersons"-Chris Rock, on the future.

You know, we're living in the future. Not literally, of course, but I was cursed by growing up loving science fiction, starting with "Star Trek" reruns, then the various "Planet of the Apes" and leading into the life changing event that is "Star Wars", which came out when I was 7. Cheesy (Buck Rogers) or not (Blade Runner), I was an sci-fi addict to a girl-alienating degree.

I often daydreamed of the "World of Tomorrow" and since so much of science fiction took place at the turn of the century, the year 2000 seemed to me like the official "future". Would we have interstellar travel, flying cars, and videophones? And would turtlenecks be as popular with future people as these movies and tv shows suggested?

Well, it's 2006, and the answers are no, no, not really, and well, we may never be free of the scourge of the turtleneck, but we are safe for now. The computerized music that dominated the 80's seemed futuristic at the time, but now seem quaint. And most of the Sci-fi I loved just looks silly. (I just saw Flash Gordon again recently and well, the prosecution rests) But we do have some cool shit.

We don't have personal androids, but I can post this blog or record a song from where I'm sitting and have it reach almost any computer connected to the internet anywhere in the world. And thanks to IMDB, wikipedia, and the urban dictionary, arguments can be settled at lightning speed.

No time travel, but I own a device smaller than a pack of gum that holds over 10 CDs worth of music for playback, and people make fun of how little storage it has.

Videophones are an idea that is honestly better on paper, like refrigerators with glass doors) but there are mobile phones that can take and send pictures and connect to the magical inter web.

I won't even get into on demand cable, google earth or youtube. We used to reach for the stars, but stars are far away. It's easier to reach for what's convenient. That's just human nature and I don't have the slightest problem with that.

I need a job y'all

I work hard, I learn fast and have unparalleled loyalty. Let me know if you've got something for me.

I'm bored, unemployment is overrated!

On the upside, I've been working like a fiend on my book, "Surviving Retail", at least for me. For those who don't know, it's a collection of wacky anecdotes, amateur sociological observations and lessons learned over my 15+ years of retail hell.
My friend Pamela gave me a challenge, don't blog until you finish 5 pages, and I do love the blogging so. I did it, and then kept going. I think this is why I've been posting so much.
No Future in Frontin',
Your Pal Pete