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!

Monday, April 30, 2007

My Own Personal Wolfowitz Scandal

If you read this, please read it all. Paul Wolfowitz has his enough problems these days.
The toy store where I used to work was in a interesting section of DC, We would get politicians and political-type people. Senators, pundits, Supreme Court Justices,reporters, even the occasional foreign royalty, and that's just the people I recognize.
The video store next door was a different story, the same kind of people patronized there as well, but there are very few things that can have embarassment potential. Barbies and Lego are one thing, "Point Break" and "Beautician and the Beast" is another.

When I mentioned that was I was writing a book about my retail experiences while I was visiting over there, someone who worked there said that they could write a book themselves just about the video store, from famous people behaving badly over a four dollar late charge to the one time one of the other employees got drunk with a pundit and ended up getting stabbed in the arm by said talking head.
"The funny thing is the porn habits of some of these people."
I had to know something, I was rabid for details. First this person rattled of a couple tidbits that were a bit vanilla, until this whopper was spilled:
"Paul Wolfowitz is into she-males"
HOLY SHIT, you've got to be kidding! This is HUGE. Neo-con, archetect of the Iraq War, hermaphrodite entusiast?
I got the pleasure of making the week of the leftier of my friends(which is most of them) with this tasty little nugget of gossip about one of their least favorite political figures. I felt like I was peeking at the seedier side of Washington that gets parceled out now and them that chips away at the ridiculous notion of conservative moral superiority.
Except it was a lie.
Shortly before I felt DC one of the guys that worked there too told me that he had checked the rental records of those people that were dished on and none of them had ever rented porn, nothing more incriminating than "Dude, Where's My Car."
I wrote a mass e-mail to the people I had passed the lie to telling them the bad news. One of them wrote back,"That's O.K., in my dreams it's true, and it makes me smile."

Friday, April 27, 2007

Hilariously Inappropriate Toy Store Requests

I've been struck by a world class case of writers block for book, blog, whatever. Instead of laboring on something new, I'll give you an excerpt from my book, Surviving Retail. This is from my time at the toy store.
1. Cigarettes- In one of the old locations a guy asked if they sold smokes and, according to Steven(my boss), got quite irate that he didn't without ever noticing that he was in a toy store.

2. "Adult Toys"- In doing research for this peticular section,I asked my co-workers what inappropriate things they had been asked for; three of them said, "Adult toys." Now we prided ourselves for catering to whimsy regardless of age, so I made sure that THEY made sure what they were talking about. Some had been asked it on the phone, some in person and all of them had had it happen more than once, but it was all in a whisper, "adult toys". Lizzie, half screwing with someone who asked, half making absolutely sure that he was asking for battery powered marital aids, kept asking, "What kind?" while the customer kept answering, "you know, ADULT toys." "No, I don't, what kind....."

These next couple were obviously a child taking advantage of the parent's general ignorance about most pop culture related things. Lucky for them and not the youngster, we would let them know how unseemly these would be as gifts, without getting as colorful as I am here

3. The South Park movie- You mean the one where Satan is sodomized by Saddam Heussin? The jaunty musical with such selections as "Uncle Fucker" and "Kyle's Mom's a Big Fat Bitch?" Yeah, we didn't think it was right for the store. There are still quite a few adults that believe that cartoon are still just for kids.

4. BMXXX- This was a game for the X-Box where you achieve goals doing tricks on a bmx bike that you use to get digitized strippers to take off their digitized tops. I saw a request for this in the notebook we kept for such things and instantly called the customer to inform her of the games content.
"My nine year old COULDN'T have known about that. He must of just heard it was a good game." I just left it with her like that and not related my own experiences as a boy of that age, where we were acutely aware of any instance or opportunity of nudity through the clandestine news network that all adolecent boys have had through out history. He had heard it was good, alright: Mediocre game + nudity= THE GREATEST GAME OF ALL TIME!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Save Us, Celebrities!

Make no mistake, other than telling you how to wipe your ass,Sheryl Crow doesn't give a shit about you. I wonder how she would react if, at some self-congratulatory dinner that she was responsible for, I came up to her and assaulted her for her crimes against music. "You work for me, Ms. Crow! You owe me for "Soak up the Sun!" I guess it would be similar to the headline making scrape she got into this weekend.

Don't get me wrong, I think Rove is evil too, but accosting the guy in that context just makes more unnecessary grist of the "what's wrong with Liberals" mill.

The rich and famous think that because people ask them their opinions and print them in magazines, and we are unnaturally interested in who they sleep with, we look to them for guidance. They're wrong.

They speak out against the objectivication of women then objectify themselves, they tell us to "vote or die" then don't vote. They tell you how to "Save the Earth" with tips that they themselves are unwilling to do or are in the financial position to do much easier than us regular folk.

Carbon offsets are bullshit, by the way. One of the things I've learned from the interactions I've had with the wealthy in my life is that a lot of them are more than willing to throw money at something instead of doing it themselves.
"Do as I say, not as I do!" It didn't work when your parents said it, why is it going to work when Sheryl Crow does?

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Warning to Straight American Males!

Women will only feel SO bad about their bad about their bodies before they turn their unforgiving eye towards men. The ever shrinking feminine standard of body size and the masculine upholding of this ridiculousness has raised my ire enough to write a post about it (in fact I did here)

But a few recent things have made me get all Peter Finch in "Network" where I throw open the window and yell,"I'm Cross As Heck, and I'm Refusing To Take It Any Longer!"

Scarlett Johannson's Vogue cover which proclaimed the ingenue "Curvy and Cool". Scarlett is now curvy? I think she looks like a normal woman, before the meaning of that got so preverted. Sara Ramirez is curvy (and delectably so).

Did you see the recent pictures of Courtney Love in a bikini? I ran across too many comment calling it her "sexy new look". It reminds me of something my Dad used to say, if she got any skinnier she'd fall through her ass and hang herself! A colorful pcture painted on the mind's eye for colorful times. The saddest part of this to me is that it makes a lot of beautiful women feel ugly. Beautiful women come in all shapes and sizes and tits, hips and ass are not dirty words (well, I guess tits and ass are... you get my point).

We should be honest, women do a lot of this to themselves, but we men have a karmic debt for the fact that they made "No Fat Chicks" shirts in XXL.

It wouldn't take much to turn the tide, just a few women breaking up with their boyfriends because his ass got too big. The ego-imploding shockwave would spread to the most remotest sections of America making all holders of the Y chromosome shudder with dread. Gyms would be stuffed with new recruits and plastic surgeons would be nipping and tucking their way to new levels of affluence. Those lacking the willpower and/or the funds to conform to this new order will sit in a fetal position, cradling their gut like a newborn baby, softly sobbing,"I'm working on it, I'm working on it."

And what's with this "Cougar" bullshit? If you aren't familiar with the term, it refers to an older woman who dates a younger man. It seems the harsher slang is usually reserved for women. What is the man in this kind of relationship called? "Boy toy", I can handle that. When the genders are reversed what's the woman called? "Golddigger." What's the man called? "Lucky Bastard".

Friday, April 20, 2007

People to get high with (if such a thing was legal, of course)

This is my special 4/20 post. I do not condone the use of illegal drugs, this is written in a world where such a thing is legal and socially acceptable.

1. Willie Nelson- Jasmine, my friend Jay's fiance, and I have the same person on the top of our "Celebrities whe'd love to get high with"list. Great songwriter, a genuine character and the best kind of person to get high with: one with peerless "getting stoned" stories. He got high on the roof of the freakin' White House!

2. Jon Stewart and/or Stephen Colbert- Jon has more of a reputation as a "head" than Stephen(he had a telling cameo in "Half Baked", but who are we kidding: he, more than likely, also knows the green gospel.

3. Missy Elliott- She strikes me as a person that's creative AND motivated (that second part is rare!) when she's high. Many of her greatest songs were written under the influence, I believe.

4. Bill Maher- If he didn't talk about getting high so much, I wouldn't have picked him as a thunder lettuce entusiast. He's an asshole but a genuinely funny and insightful one. I would love to find out what he's like under the influence.

5. Snoop Dogg- Do I have to say why? However, with the amount and relative strength of his weed, I'd probably be passed out before you could say, "shizzle".

6. Sarah Silverman and Amy Sedaris- For the same reason, really. They are both funny and beautiful; not surprisingly, I've had low-grade crushes on them both.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

I'm back online!

I've now made it to the ultimate location of my exile, Shenandoah, Iowa. I just got online today, I've been here about 2 weeks and I only had limited access to the Mid-west internets. I'm planning on making up for lost time, so I'll be posting a lot more. I'm sorry to have been gone for so long, I appreciate all the people that have been writing wanting me to post, I like that people miss the Underachiever's Progress as much as I do when I can't post. I'm definitely fired up about a couple things and will get to that soon. But first,
Interesting things about my Iowa experience:
1. The house I'm living in was built as a jail as I had previously posted, but I don't think Shenandoah had ever had much of a crime problem so it only had a couple of cells.

2.Shenandoah is about as aggressively Mid-Western as you can get. People are extremely nice here and always say hello when you pass, one of the things I missed about where I grew up. Here it's much more sincere, though. If a movie location scout needed a good farmhouse to shoot, you can go literally anywhere around here. There's nary a rolling hill that doesn't have a silo and a modest 2-story farm house springing out of it with the perfect number of cows mulling around the barn.

3. It's the little things. There is a Walmart, a McDonalds and a Burger King in Shenandoah, there is no other chain that I have ever heard of (oops sorry, there's also a Curves, believe it or don't) there or anywhere close. Instead of Papa John's Pizza, there's Godfather's. There's no Blockbuster, but there's a Movie Gallery. No Safeway or Giant, there's HyVee and Fareway. Instead of 7-11, there's Casey's and the unfortunately named Kum and Go.

4. I've been playing a lot of golf and have the brutal sunburn on my neck to prove it. I shot a 62 in 9 holes yesterday and I understand that's pretty good for a beginner.

Unavoiding the Unavoidable.

There are a couple of blog worthy current events that have occured recently, but I don't think I could add anything to what has already been said but when I started I couldn't stop.
The Virginia Tech Tragedy-It's always unfortunate when a gun is used as a substitute for power, this was beyond what I have ever imagined. This young man felt a much more extreme case of something we all carry with us: the sense that the world owes us something. We all go to ridiculous lengths to avoid looking at ourselves, hopefully he went as far as anyone will go. But I wish I didn't want to see the pictures or the tape of him ranting. Showing it on TV(and wanting to see it) gets what this twisted freak thinks put across to a much wide audience than if he just blogged like everyone else.

Don Imus-This is one of the prime examples of how we can turn an inconsequential tempest in a teapot into a public relations H-bomb. What he said was real dumb, but getting fired for it? If this turns into a way for us to honestly how we approach objectification of women, fine. Otherwise it just seems so pointless.
The thing that people forget is the importance of picking battles and the unintended result. Don Imus may be unemployed, but he's recent been on the cover of both Time and Newsweek, which would have never happened if he didn't say what he did.

That's the thing that links these stories: Don Imus said something asinine and Cho Seung-Hui did something unspeakably pointless and tragic but because they did, a LOT more people are talking about them than if they didn't. I don't know what to do about that.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I Love Passover!

At the toy store where I was formerly employed, the owner and about a third of the customers were of the Jewish faith. Because of this, I became very familiar with the Jewish holidays and customs. I didn't realize how true this was until the first holiday season I worked when Hanukkah started in November instead of December. I'd mention it in passing to some Jewish customers and they'd flip,"Oh, my God! It's next week?! I didn't know it was so early!"
When asked how I, a gentile, knew so much about Judaica, my stock joke became, "Because I went on 'Jew Eye For The Straight Goy'".

But Passover is my favorite because of what we sold during it. For the unfamiliar, a part of the modern custom is something called plague baskets, ten different things to signify the ten plagues that were brought upon the Egyptians by God through Moses (with some help from Aaron). A toy cow for cattle disease, little styrofoam balls for hailstones, fizzy tablets that turn water red to signify the Nile turning to blood, you get the idea.

But the awesomest item ever was something we started selling last Passover:

How creepy is the dead firstborn puppet?

My fellow gentiles do not get this at all. "Isn't that a little morbid?"
Well, yeah! The wrath of God cannot be Disneyed, it can only be Cecil B. DeMille'd. The name Passover itself refers to the Angel of Death "passing over" Jewish households marked with lamb's blood as it killed the firstborn!
Maybe THEY should go on "Jew Eye"!

The Awesome Power of!

I am blown away! My post yesterday about my "Is Being Bald That Bad?" post being my most popular one had the most fortuitous effect. It got featured on in the style section, and the resulting hits from the feature made THAT post the most popular one ever, by an astronomical margin. In fact, 10 percent of all web traffic in the year plus I've been writing this blog occurred just yesterday!

Thanks a million to the fine folks at!

Monday, April 02, 2007

No, Seriously, Is Being Bald That Bad?

According to Sitemeter, my post "Is Being Bald That Bad?" is far and away the most popular post I've ever done. When I first wrote it, it was featured on D.C. Blogs, which got me a few extra hits. But the thing that got me the most online attention wasn't my brilliant writing but the fact that I put pictures of Donald Trump, Vince McMahon and a bald Natalie Portman. Most of the hits were refered by the Google Images page from people who wanted picture of one of them and quite a few(from Eastern Europe and the Middle East mostly) that were looking for a "bald woman". The hits reached a fever pitch over the weekend as the Wrestlemania where either Vince or Donald had to lose their hair.

Anyway, this deserves a sequel! Unfortunately, like most sequels, this will have a lot of the same players, but won't be nearly as satisfying as the original.

As it turns out, Vince had to go razor-to-scalp and did not take it well.

That expression on his face suggests that he's the "new meat special" at Riker's Island Prison rather than getting his head shaved. Vince, it'll grow back.

He's far from the only one who would rather look silly than bald.

Phil Spector:

Kevin Dubrow,lead singer of Quiet Riot, who was noticeably thinning in 1983: