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, December 31, 2007

2007:Your Pal In Review

So ends the most tumultuous year in my life, and the changes have not ended yet. I've lived in DC, Iowa, Texas, Maryland and it looks like I'm going to be living in Arizona before the end of next month. I finally finished the book I've been talking about for 8 years. I would love to write about the news events in 2007- the most "W.T.F.!" year in my lifetime, but The Onion has done a much better job.
My favorite posts:

Pretentious and pretentiouser
Obama for President
The Lonesome Bass Player
My Dad and The Shoney's Waitress
Is Being Bald THAT Bad?- This was my most popular post and like a lot of my popular ones it was written very quickly. It got featured a few places and people still find it when they look for pictures of a bald Natalie Portman (which it turns out happens a lot).
What I've Learned- My attempt at a Esquire-esque list of life lessons.
Muppets Vs. Disney
What I've Learned ....About Pop Culture
The McJob Dilemma
No Seriously, Is Being Bald That Bad?- a sequel to my then most popular post, that-after being featured on dwarfed the popularity of the first post and for a brief time I put the "temporary" in contemporary blogging, getting thousands of hits from all over the world. For three days.
I Love Passover!
The Worst Best Man Speech Ever!
Childrearing Tips From A Childless Bachelor- Surprisingly, I got a lot of positive responses from actual parents, and that made me feel good.
15 years of "Baby's Got Back"
You Damn Kids!
Secret Language of Musicians
Ways Men Call Themselves "Asshole"
The King Of Kong and America
Territorial Pissings
Reasons Why Guitar Hero Is Better Than Playing Guitar

Friday, December 28, 2007

Things I Hate About Getting Older.

Don't get me wrong, I love being older -for the most part. The silliness of being twenty-something is much more fun to watch than experience first hand. But it isn't all knowing laughter and VH1 retrospectives on my childhood, there are a couple things that make me feel every millisecond of thirty-seven.

1.Not being able to stand for long periods of time.
My dad took me to see one of my favorite bands, The Replacements, in Philadelphia in 1991. My dad tried, but couldn't stand the whole time. I should have looked to this as something to look forward to, but I didn't see it coming until I saw Ted Leo recently. I spent a good bit of the second part of the show trying to shake the feeling back into my legs, and I'm five years younger than my dad was at The Replacements show.

2. Not being able to wear boxer shorts.(WARNING, T.M.I. ALERT!)
Underwear in the latter part of my life had gotten a bit complicated. I used to love boxer shorts, and it was a surprisingly popular gift choice for my platonic female friends to give me. Then I started getting intense pains in my malely bits, my taint in particular. It turns out that my boys needed support, which is now provided by boxer briefs; they're comfortable, but I miss swinging freely. Before, as long as my underwear was covering my naughty bits up front and my dirty bits in back, I'd have no reason to throw them away. Sometimes just a couple slender threads were the only thing keeping my boxers from becoming a full-on skirt, but now I have to throw away a pair when they wear out of their original level of abutment.

3. Grey nose hairs.
As it is already, I have the most insidious nose hairs of anyone in my age group. As much as I root around with my battery powered nose hair trimmer, it's just a couple days before I see hairs bending out of my nostrils, longer than ever and taunting my efforts. Making them grey just makes it seems like I groom them with a high lighter rather than blades designed to cut them into submission.

4. Feeling like a dirty old man.
Even though she's 20, I still feel like a perv for digging Ellen Page.

What's a cracker to do?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

My Retail Christmas Song

I wrote this on Christmas Eve Eve night(the 23th) to entertain my co-workers after the store closed on Christmas Eve, but I liked it so much I wanted to share it with you. This song celebrates the short time when the retail worker can maybe actually enjoy the Christmas season: from when the store locks up on the 24th to when it opens on the 26th. Spread the holiday love!

The Lyrics:
Doors are locked/ nobody died
Where's the booze?/our nerves are fried
Looks like we made it/ though there were some near misses
There's been a ceasefire/ in the war on Christmas
Chorus: But we love Christmas/oh yes, we do
And not just cause Jesus wants us to
We love Christmas/but the best part of the day
Is knowing it's a whole 'nother year away
Second Verse:Returns are coming/ they can't be beat
Disappointment and lost receipts
But that's tomorrow/ to deal with that aggression
Now I've got my greatest gift/ A day without stupid questions
Chorus again add
since it's a leap year it's an extra whole day away

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Surviving Retail:The Blog!

In an attempt to get some interest generated for my first (non-fiction) book Surviving Retail, I've created a separate blog where I'll post news and excerpts from it, along with any other retail related things that might come along. It's at if you'd like to visit. To regular readers of my blog, some entries may be familiar, but many new morsels of retail goodness will be posted.

In related news, it seems like Karl Rove is having problems selling his book, too. That's where the similarities end; after all, mine is non-fiction.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I Love My Life.

I love my life, I really do. Yesterday a congressman came in to the store, but not just any representative,but Iowa's Fred Grandy. My fellow pop-culture geeks will recognize the name, but for those who don't, he played "Gopher" on The Love Boat. I watched that show every Saturday mainly because my TV only got three channels, though I must of liked it on some level. It ruined a lot of my early relationship though, I thought you could just say "I love you" because people who just met each other were saying it on that show all the time. It took a little while for me to learn what a mistake that was because I believed my soon-to-be-ex girlfriends when they told me that wasn't the reason they were breaking up with me; "No, I think it's sweet." Right.

It still figures prominently in my day-to-day life; I sing the "Love Boat Theme" ALL THE TIME. When I see someone I'm happy to see, sometimes I'll sing their name in the place of the word "love" live, "John Dimes, life's sweetest reward, let him float, he floats back to you!" Conversely, to crack up my co-worker Lizzy I sing it in a German accent, "DAS LOVE BOOT!"

So any way.... The other day in the Toy Store, I looked in our notebook where we keep customers requests and saw his name and went to my boss "Is that Fred 'Gopher from The Love Boat' Grandy?"
"I don't know," he said, which didn't surprise me; he's had a life. It was. When he actually came in, I was still bleary from the cold I had spent the previous day battling so I didn't notice it was him until halfway through ringing him up. I could just barely contain my geeky excitement. If I knew where he was from I could have told him about about my recent Iowa adventures or regaled him with a verse of "DAS LOVE BOOT!" but my discretion -thankfully- proved successful and kept everything on a professional level.

He was a nice guy, by the way.

Monday, December 17, 2007

I need a job and a place to live.

My temporary situations on employment and habitation have been going for a while and I would love to be able to get into something more permanent. If any one knows of any opportunities, please e-mail me at


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Videos, Videos, Videos!

I'm a bit out of the loop, so I don't know how wide spread these are. Excuse me if I'm being redundant.

The whisper at the end of Lost In Translation REVEALED! Spoiler

I got hooked on a British show in Austin called The IT Crowd It's 2 seasons, 12 episodes total; yep, it's English. This is part of one episode, all the others are available on Youtube.

Do you want to see something about Larry the Cable Guy that's actually funny? Here's Larry using his real name Dan Whitney "the Freight Train of Comedy"

Recognize this guy? this is a 1982 commercial for the first video game I was ever nightmare-inducing obsessed by, Pitfall.

Another "before they were semi-famous" moment:

This is probably the most wide spread of these vids, but I still talk to people who haven't seen it, so..

You're welcome!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Awesome Power Of Oprah

Much has been made over Oprah Winfrey's stumping for Barack Obama, as well it should. The woman has genuine pull that I have seen the effects of personally. This is from my book Surviving Retail (which is still without an agent, by the way, the scene is about 8 years ago when I worked at a Sharper Image, merely the best example at the power of "O", not the only one:

"I was eating a late lunch and watching the Oprah show and they were having a 'Oprah’s favorite things' show. One of her absolute fave raves was a corkscrew that we happened to sell. It was honestly the world’s best, there are tons of commercials on now for the Houdini Corkscrew, this was the first, expensive version of that. Ms. Winfrey demonstrated this wonderful product, but twisted the cork out by hand. I joked at the screen, 'Oprah you're doing it wrong, just press the lever again!' It cost about $130, more than the combined total of all the wine I had ever purchased-especially if you only count bottles with corks -so it was usually only sold around the holidays when it makes the perfect gift for the wine consumer that couldn’t justify the expense for themselves.

After my lunch break I told Javier(a co-worker) about what I had just seen and he said, 'That was probably why we just got two calls for it.' That was just the first 10 minutes, by the next day we had fielded about 3 dozen calls about them with most people going,”$130? Figures Oprah wouldn’t mention that part!” But a surprisingly large number resulted in actual purchases, and we ran out within a couple of days. It seemed like the company wasn’t aware of the upcoming big “O’ shoutout, because most of our stores ran out and we had to get as special shipment to replenish from the company."

I call her my "Favorite Billionaire" because even though she is a bit pompous and self-righteous at times; compared to how bad she could be, she's downright humble.

Let's just hope she only uses it for good (or for awesome)!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Checks and Balances in the 21st Century

When you look at history through today's politically correct lens, the founding fathers fall far short and it has been popular to bash them for this in recent years but that's one of the truths of human history: it's often made by Assholes.

One of the things you can't deny is that they were political geniuses. When they were crafting the Constitution, they couldn't have foreseen all of the changes that have occurred since but they knew one thing: one branch of government cannot run everything. The Bill of Rights are the first ten amendments because George Mason (among others) were afraid that future governments would not honor certain basic rights unless they were legally obliged to.

Can you guess why I'm bringing this up now? Look at what's happened in this country with unchecked power? Now it's the Iran NIE and the "destroyed" interrogation tapes being the latest things that will "bring down" the Bush Presidency; but they won't. I'd like to take this opportunity to say that I hate the political system in general, I'll sure I'll say the same thing when the Democrats are in power and make their eventual fuck-ups. The Democratic Presidental Canadates are mainly good at not being George Bush and not much else (although I do still like Obama) and calling the Democratic Congress impotent is an insult to people that suffer from erectile dysfunction.

But let's be honest, what would the GOP do if a Democratic president had:

had shadowy ties to some of the most egregious examples of corporate wrongdoing in history?

not caught Osama bin Laden six years after 9/11? And attacked a country that wasn't responsible for it?

Left an American city to rot two years after it was destroyed after a hurricane (especially since after 9/11 we were suppose to be better prepared for things like this)

a senior member of his staff that exposed a CIA operative to a journalist?

Regardless of what they might say neither party is truly about freedom or morality, it's about their version of politics as usual. It's a little like being a sports fan, you love the players until they're wearing another uniform. I'll explain: both sides love say how much they value integrity when it's the integrity of the person on the other side being called into question, but downplay it when it's someone on their side.

But this time around it's a Republican Administration that wants us to trust them without being worthy of it. They're the ones that love to say that people who don't support the Iraq War don't support the troops but then don't give them enough armor or give maimed soldiers a bill.

But regardless of what happens or who gets elected it's still politics-as-usual. People love to say that 9/11 changed everything, but it didn't. 9/11 excused everything.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


The hysteria of "dangerous" Chinese toys is a bit like the last scene in the original Invasion of The Body Snatchers where the protagonist realize he's too late, THEY'RE ALREADY HERE; and they have been for decades.

I'm back working at the toy store (where I worked before I left to finish my book)for the holidays and I have a fraction of the stress that I've had in previous years. Here's a post I wrote about it last year. I put the credit to my boss, who has made sure I haven't worked too much, but also a more zen way of being. But this whole China fear has put a new wrinkle in things. The people that are concerned about it -about 3 or 4 a day- cannot be reasoned with.
Customer: "Is this dangerous!"
Co-worker: "No, besides it's for a 9-year old, they don't put stuff in their mouth."
Customer: "So that means it's OK to buy something that will poison her?!"
Stuff like that. This by no means should be read as my not caring about the welfare of children, I'm just a big fan of keeping perspective. These recalls are happening even if there could be a threat and a very small percentage of toys have been affected. It's done wonders for my TV screen time, ABC and CBS have both been in the store in the past week to shoot stories; if you see (or have seen) a bald guy ringing up toys recently, it's me.
The problem is EVERYTHING is made in China, and has been for a long time. When I worked at The Sharper Image, people would come in and ask, "What do you have that's not made in China?" and I'd say, "You're in the wrong place." The thing that people (some one!) should be concerned about as the INSANE amount of money being poured into the (Communist)Chinese economy. Do you know what happens when so much economic growth happens in a system not designed to handle it? I think we're about to find out.

But the consumer needs to understand their own role in this. For years, people have made it clear that they'll shop where the price is lowest, they're even sacrifice customer service and get packed into "big box" stores for the privilege. Have you had problems finding a certain Lego set? Thank Target and Walmart, to keep up their required stock supply and keeping prices low they move a lot of their production to Mexico. The entire first run were defective and had to all be scraped; a year and a half later, they still haven't recovered. This is merely one example of hundreds of companies being forced overseas to keep their prices down.

In a way, it's a bit like this video, just think of the American Public as the girl and Corporate America as her parents:

Corporate America:"Isn't this what you wanted? Cheap prices? What did I do wrong?"
You've found out what the Paparazzi and Catholic Priests already know: fuck with the kids, and all bets are off.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Rejection, Rejection, Rejection!

I've been trying to pitch Surviving Retail: Anecdotes and Observation from a Life Working Retail to literary agents, who will in turn sell it to publishers. Theoretically. I've sent out query letters to about a dozen agents as of yet, and gotten about 4 letters of rejection. As much as I have a issue with rejection, this doesn't bother me at all; I am so proud of what I've done I see it as their loss-or at least I do now. But after reading how writers often behave towards their agents and the wording of the rejection e-mails, it suggests that writers in general must be really twitchy. But I'm cool with it, there's nothing like being musician to get used to being rejected. This is the typical theme:

We say no for many reasons -- because of changing trends in the market; because we already have something similar on our list; because we know of similar published or forthcoming books; because something isn't right for us; because although something may be strong and even publishable, we didn't fall in love with it.

Try to keep "No" in perspective. All it takes is one "Yes." Editorial opinions are, of course, subjective. There are many authors whose manuscripts have been rejected, and have then gone on to find the right publisher for their work. In fact, you might say this is a time-honored publishing tradition, and we hope that it will be the case for you.

Ain't that something? It's really the very best way to be rejected; this agent has shown me more emotional sensitivity than some of my girlfriends.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Post-Party Apology Form E-Mail

Standard Form
(Check all that apply)
Dear _______ , I would like to apologize for the events of last night:

< > I was slightly too drunk.
< > I was WAY too drunk!
< > I was under the influence of drugs
< > I was on A LOT of cough syrup

Thus resulting in the:

< > General obnoxiousness
< > Destruction and/or stealing of property
< > Attempted Hook-up
< > Successful Hook-up
< > With your significant other
Rest assured, this is out of my character. I hope this incident will not influence your decision when considering me for future:

< > Party Attendance
< > Friendship
< > Hook-up