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!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008:My Year In Suck

In the excellent Clash documentary Westway To The World, a journalist surmises about Mick Jones’ childhood living with his grandmother in the projects; that he probably looked out on to the westway by where he lived and wondered what was to become of his life. Thinking about my own life, I knew that my family was aggressively middle class, so I didn’t have that feeling of growing up hopeless. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was soon to find out what it felt like to have grown up hopeless.

I didn’t have the Westway, but when I lived in Phoenix I had the South Rim, with the mountains making a hazy outline against the thick smog, visible as milk in the cereal bowl of the valley. I wondered, what the fuck now? I still don’t know.

To finish my book, I kind of took myself “off the grid” as it is popularly said. I spent a huge part of 2007 living at a house in Iowa, then in Texas living with my then-girlfriend. I finished the book and unfortunately the relationship didn’t work out, so I tried moving back to the DC area and you know, get back on “The Grid.”

The Grid keeps throwing me back off.

January: After unsuccessful attempts to get a job (although I worked the Christmas season at my old toy store job. It was only part-time, so it was only partly masochistic) and a place to live, I move in with my Mom in Phoenix. As I may have mentioned…

Pros- I get to spend more time with my family, especially my niece and nephews.
Cons- Just about every other god-damn thing about it.

I fucking hate Phoenix, and I got to spend part of the summer there. People love to say, “But it’s a dry heat!” So is being on fire. Tim Roth in the movie Bodies, Rest and Motion when he said an Arizona summer was good practice for Hell.

July: After saving enough money from working at a place that refills printer cartridges, I move back to the DC area. Not wanting to repeat previous mistakes I get a place to live with my friend Misha and a place to work full-time. It’s at my friend Dave’s guitar store, so it’s kind of the perfect job for me. Or it may have been if my hours were constantly getting cut until I only worked two days a week. I understood their need to cut costs, but my landlord would probably not be as understanding.

Fall ’08: I got another job pretty quickly, as a theater manager at the new Montgomery Cinema and Drafthouse. As with many new places, the inspections and finishing touches took a little while, so thank God for those two days a week at the Guitar Store. When it finally opened, the stress of juggling and putting out fires (metaphorically, of course), almost got the best of me there. I got laid off at the Guitar store, which I didn’t mind at the time because it magically gave me two days off a week, up from zero.

After a while I really started to enjoy my work and even got promoted to shift manager. A new wrinkle developed by chance one night when I got pushed on stage to introduce a comedy show there and did about 5 minutes worth of material that went over pretty well. My bosses said that I could do some more MCing if I wanted to. Uh, yea, I do!

Then it closed. Just a bit before Christmas, in the midst of an economic panic. What the fuck was I going to do?

2008 fucking sucked. But looking my life right now, the evidence of how lucky I really am is impossible to ignore.

Of course there’s my Mom, for letting me live with her and trying to help me out of the paralyzing depression that dominated the first half of this year.

There’s Misha, who took me in when I needed it and made moving back to the area that I feel most comfortable in possible.

There’s Steven, my boss at the toy store. His help this year has saved my ass more times –especially- this year more times than I can relate.

And last, but certainly not least, is my friend Shawn, who has supported me in every conceivable way this year.

Overall, I’m doing pretty well considering that I got laid off twice this year. I have a roof over my head and no out of control debt. I actually have a job, albeit one that has almost driven my literally insane in the past. After the year I just had, the stresses there are a lot easier to deal with. Yes, it’s sad that I am wistful for when I was merely unhappy, but that seems to be as much as anyone can hope for with what everyone else is going through. We as Americans are not used to worrying so much about our survival, but we’ve learned a valuable lesson that much of the rest of the world already knows: until you stop worrying about survival, fretting about happiness is a luxury that’s easily left behind.

2009 has to be better, right? We can still hope, so I will. Happy New Year and many happy returns to everyone. I don’t have any resolutions personally, I just want more of what this year sorely lacked: money, security and happiness.

Oh, and feminine affection. Much more of that, please!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

My Failed Seduction

Realizing that my readership has dropped WAY off, I can be a bit more honest in expressing myself in a blog fashion. Flat out, I've been almost stupefyingly lonely the last few months. The only thing that has helped is just trying NOT to be, like some imaginary someone standing over me slapping me in the face until I don't feel lonely anymore. This is a story from before I learned to "deal".

A couple of months ago, I had a female friend visit me for that wonderfully ambiguous activity known as “hanging out”. I wanted to use this opportunity to make an in earnest pass at her. I had always been very attracted to her, but didn’t have the kind of fantasies that I had have starring some of my other female friends. But the possibility that she just MIGHT be receptive to a pass from me changed that quickly in my deluded mind.

It was pretty obvious that this wasn’t going to work very quickly. She had spent the day with a woman that she was attracted to, took out her sexual frustration on her ex-boyfriend and was IMing a third person that she had never met. As she talked about the stew of drama in her life, she admitted that she probably enjoyed it on some level. It was right about then that I added another ingredient: I told her of my plan to seduce her.

“You were not!”she said, lightly slapping me on the shoulder. I was, actually. "Well, I'm flattered," she said, which I know from TONS of experience means, "Thanks, but no thanks." Shit, I even wrote a song about it( although I wrote it about a gay man hitting on me).

As my friend left, I realized that it was probably a good idea that it didn’t work, although my loneliness continued unabated. With the two texting conversations going on while we watched a movie, it was the next best thing to being by myself. I opened the door to my newly clean bedroom and quickly realized that the dog had peed in the corner.

It was not my night.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Graduation Party

A little over a decade ago, I was at a college graduation for a friend of mine that I had known for a while. Meeting members of her family, I had my eye drawn to one of her cousins. I thought that she might be young, but I was surprised to learn she was only 18. Talking with her and my friend, I found out that she was the same cousin that accompanied us to a Cure concert in 1987. I was shocked because she bared no resemblance to the 13 year girl that I remembered from back then. Obviously my baldness gave a her a similar problem.

“No, you didn’t go with us,” she said, matter-of-factly.
“Yes I did, “ I said, ”Disintegration tour, Cap Centre.”
“That’s the show, but it wasn’t you. There was Mike, there was Cess there was Pete.”
“Yes, Pete. I’m Pete.”
“No this Pete had,” she put her hands flat 8 inches over her scalp to signify the empire of hair I once. Short back and sides with a longish moppy mushroom up top is how I wore it when I wore a younger man’s hair. But those days were gone.

I was that Pete alright, that show was the beginning of the end of my –screwed up-relationship with my Cessi, my ex-fiancĂ©e. I had made a mistake of saying that Cindy Crawford looked awesome on the cover of the new Cosmo, and she was very upset about it. She was never shy about saying who she was attracted to who was not me, but the fact that this was the first time I had said something about someone that wasn’t her justified her hurt. At the show, she pointed to a girl sitting behind us asking me, “Isn’t she pretty?”
“Sure,” I shrugged and I swear I never looked at her again, not wanting to exacerbate our situation. After the show, she sulked the 3 hour drive home saying that I had stared at that girl all night. My protests to the contrary were negated by Mike, who said he noticed the same thing. Did I mention that she cheated on me with Mike most of the time we were together? It wasn’t my last dysfunctional relationship, alas, but it did set a pretty high standard for me.

I didn’t unload this part of the story for her, this is just for you (you’re welcome!), but this memory added to my frustration dealing with her disbelief that I wasn’t present at such a significant moment in my life.

“You know, you’re about 6 inches taller than you were then, but I still believe it’s you!”

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Open Letter to Blue State America.

VOTE, VOTE, FUCKING VOTE! I say that to people on both sides of the political fence, if you're registered and have a choice, make it!

Let me make this clear, I am not one of these people who says,"If you don't vote, you can't complain." People in this country never wait to have the right to complain before they do it. If you have the choice and have the ability, DO IT!

But to my fellow Obama supporters, don't listen to people when they say your vote doesn't count. The popular assumption is that if you make voting harder- be it bad weather, long lines, or stricter regulations- democratic candidates suffer. Don't let these things keep you from your duty as Americans.

Republicans have had many cases of de-facto vote suppression, hiding it under the guise of trying to stop voter fraud. The ACORN "scandal" is a great example; even if Minnie Mouse was registered to vote, she would still have to provide some sort of government issued ID to vote. ACORN has to- by law- take every application, even if they know it's fake. This is no guarantee that that'll turn into a vote, but it certainly looks bad if you just take the news at face value.

I've been able to vote since 1988 and until 2000 the most prominent Republican that urged people to vote was Ted Nugent.

But vote regardless for this reason: if there is some sort of Electoral College mishap and Obama wins the popular vote but McCain still becomes president there can be as many as possible of us that can say "I voted in the majority!" and the Electoral process- which I believe was created as a way to suppress votes- can be abolished.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Palin:Pot meet Kettle

I just heard Sarah Palin take Obama to task for going after "Joe The Plumber" for asking him a question when great steps have been taken so she's not put in a similar position.

She's also afraid of Joe's taxes being raised, forgeting the fact he would pay less taxes under Obama's tax plan than McCain's. I think it's sweet that Joe's concerned about people who make more than $250,000 paying more to the government, but I assure you those people don't care about him.

McCain and Palin should keep in mind: live by Joe the plumber, die by Joe the plumber.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's the Cognitive Disconnect, Stupid

It's obvious that the GOP doesn't have THAT big a problem with celebrities running for office given their excitement over the attention Sarah Palin has received with her nomination for VP. I won't get into all of the hubbub on either side that has happened since, instead I want to talk about the culture war that accompanies every presidential election.

The war is "us" against "them"; us being good, moral people and them being the morally bankrupt folks that are hell-bent on subverting the moral foundation that this country-supposedly- was built on. The problem is, neither group really exists. What there is are people who have chosen over the past few years to be identified by their political persuasion.

Sarah Palin's daughter can CHOOSE to raise her baby, being in a position to do it a lot more comfortably than many teenage mothers. On the Palin family blog, Sarah's husband congratulates his daughter on her pregnancy with,"It was just last year that I escorted you to the purity ball.." Social conservatism seems to have a lot to do with seeming virtuous without actually being virtuous, the magic abstaining powers of the "purity ball" lasting about 6 months.

Ask any worker at an abortion clinic, many "pro-life" people have ended up as patients. Abstinence-only sex education has led to a reversal of the downward trend of teenage pregnancy and Palin's daughter is only the most famous example. As much as conservatives love to paint certain activities as being exclusive to morally bankrupt liberals, the fact is Sarah Palin smoked pot, Dick Cheney's daughter and her lesbian life partner have a baby, Cindy McCain was addicted to prescription drugs and John McCain chased anything in a skirt for a while. This is not even counting the various examples of adultery and closeted homosexuality that have pop up among the staunchest conservatives over the past few years.

There are very few things in this world that have worked themselves out because people lied about it or denied it existed. Teenagers- then, now and forever- will have sex in some form, it's better if they are informed. Homosexuality is not a choice and should not be treated as such and there is no "Homosexual Agenda", any one who has had personal experience with gay people know this. People will look for some release, be it alcohol or drugs. And we will always make decisions that we'll regret later, but it doesn't make us "them". Let's live in a world where these things are seen for the facts of life they are, we'll all feel much better.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

When "Because We Can" Becomes "Oh Fudge, We did".

I consider myself somewhat of a libertarian, but believe in at least some governmental regulation of business. You might think this is a contradiction, but it not to me. I believe in personal freedom (and responsibility), but corporations aren't persons. When something goes wrong there is not a person responsible, it's management pointing the finger at the stockholders or labor if things go wrong and everybody pointing the finger at management. This is the symptom of the free market, things take on a life of their own things get done "because they can" and never have the person make the decision when they should.

Now, I realize businesses exist to make money, but the point is "because we can" is gonna be bad for business. Look at some of the major problems facing the country:

1. The mortgage crisis- Banks and lenders gave away shitty financing "because they could" exploit the fact that people want big houses. Now they have a bunch of foreclosed homes that they can't sell and money that they can't recoup.

2. Oil prices- Hopefully the oil companies are socking away all the windfall profits. Big oil has fought it at every corner, yet have done more for alternative energy with $4 a gallon gas. They can protest "supply and demand" all they want but everybody knows what the phrase "record profits" mean, regardless of how you spin it.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bernie and Issac

What a screwed up weekend! Russia is kicking the shit out of Georgia and doesn't seem to want to stop. John Edwards is the latest reminder that hypocrisy and questionable behavior knows no political party.

Wow, Bernie Mac. As sad as his death is, I feel disingenuous calling myself a fan; more accurately I was an admirer of his. He did a great job in movies both good and bad, but he was first and foremost a stand-up comedian. He was a rare performer whose obvious love for his audience was unmatched; approaching every show like a prize fight and knocking them out every time (except at a recent Obama rally).

The image that I think of when I think of him was from the Kings Of Comedy movie. He stood behind the scrim as he was being introduced by Steve Harvey with a stone faced solemnness. As the intro built up, he started moving his hips back in forth; stoking up the crowd, who could only see his shadow. And when he is finally set loose he gives them everything he's got. Having a good show is honestly better than sex, and that segment is the best representation of that I've ever seen (and I wish I had a clip of it.

I've got a feeling that's the image he would want us to remember, too.

Issac Hayes, that's another story. Most people might remember him for his acting, maybe even only as "Chef" on South Park, and that would be enough for one life. I remember him from Rockford Files and as "The Duke Of New York" in Escape from New York; not to mention I'm Gonna Get You Sucka (a nod to his title role in Truck Turner)

But then there's his music career, with his Oscar winning "Theme from Shaft" being only one example. Issac (with David Porter) wrote some of the best soul songs ever:"Soul Man", "I Thank You", and "Wrap It Up"

Legend has that while Porter was on the john in the middle of a fruitful writing session, Issac called for him to check out this riff he had just come up with and Porter said, "Hold on, I'm coming!", which turned into one of their hugest hits.

Issac Hayes was a bad mother........fucker (I decided against shutting my mouth).

Monday, August 04, 2008

How Not To Run A Political Campaign

If you look back on news reports surrounding previous elections, undeniable patterns. For me, I noticed it when I watched a Simpsons episode about the Dole/Clinton election of '96 during the Kerry/Bush election of 4 years ago. The culture war, the "flip-flops" were all there. Every year they trot out how people you don't know are evil and looking to destroy your way of life, when they've done more than their share of damage to the status quo. It's a surprisingly effective strategy; even though a lot of the legislation they are responsible for directly hurts their way of life and/or benefits the kind of "elitists" they are suppose to hate, Republicans can always count on a decent share of the blue-collar vote. Would Bill Clinton have been re-elected if he had left the country in the shape it was in after Reagan's or Bush II's first terms?

Which brings me to John McCain. I like him, but I don't want him to be president. And the way his campaign is being run it seem like it seems like he doesn't want to be either.

1. Don't talk shit about your opponent's unused passport and then complain about it when he calls you on it.
What a freakin'backfire! We got to see how massively popular Obama is in Europe and at ease he is on a world stage. Then, McCain's campaign calls it a "premature political victory lap." Obama tried to down play this by bringing Republican senator Chuck Hagel and heeding the Pentagon's advice not to visit a military base's hospital, then McCain hammers him for that. He's hoping that the emotion of his objection will out-last the facts of the matter. Senator Hagel himself has accused McCain of "going over the line".

2. Don't throw glass "flip-flops".
You think after 8 years of an administration that has only flip-floped on the matter of their own legal responsibility, you think that the term would have lost some of it's potency. McCain better hope so, he's had quite a few himself, the most noticeable and recent one was chiding Obama for not supporting off-shore drilling, when he didn't support it himself until recently. McCain sees his run for the presidency of an extension of his patriotism, while Barack Obama is more fueled by his ambition, when in his own autobiography he admitted that ambition made him run for president. And who can forget his flip-flop on torture, where he famously has first hand knowledge about how in-effective it is.
Let us allow our politicians the right to change their opinions based on the facts and admit when they are wrong, so that we can put this to bed.

Politics is the only game where the players never admit that they're playing it.

3. Don't play the race card unless everyone knows what game's being played.

McCain's accusation of Obama playing the "race card" becomes itself a winning hand in the game of "He Who Doth Protest Too Much", becoming hair-trigger defensive. He said the right (not McCain himself) want to play on the fact that he "doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills". This is denying that there weren't people on the right who saw The New Yorker's recent controversial cover of Barack and Michelle Obama not as satire, but as a rare instance of the magazine showing the truth. This reminds me of people who called Obama racist after his comment about "bitter" people clinging to guns and religion when times are bad; besides the fact that it wasn't that far off, this phenomena is hardly exclusive to white people. You may see racism if you're looking for it, but don't be surprised if not everyone agrees with you.

4. Then there's those commercials.
I won't go into the "Obama is the cause of high gas prices" one, but I will mention the "Britney, Paris and Barack" one:

Hmmmm, so being popular is bad? It seems to have helped Ronald Reagan and George W Bush-as I mentioned earlier. You know who else being popular and well-liked helps? Everybody, so thanks for reminding us how popular your opponent is.

There there's this web-only one. It is the worst political commercial I have ever seen, not because of mud-slinging, but just because it is very close to being a pro-Obama ad:

Take the last sentence,"Is he ready to lead?", switch the first two words and change the question mark to a period and you have an Obama ad. Not a good ad, mind you, who wants to vote against "The One"?
I leave you with a live video of my new favorite song, "Cunts Are Still Running The World." This is NSFW but his introduction is priceless.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Thoughts, I Think Part 2

I read somewhere recently where more cars are coming with gauges the fuel efficiency. I foresee a new passive aggressive style of car racing, where people compete for MAXIMUM EFFICIENCY!

I can imagine that Horatio Sanz is praying that Bill Richardson gets to be Obama's running mate so he can get his job at Saturday Night Live back playing him.

Then there's Timothy Bottoms, an actor coming off of eight years of sure employment. Here's why:

That's My Bush! Did you know he played the surfing soldier in Apocalypse Now?

I just heard about a guy getting beheaded on a Greyhound bus by his seatmate, which makes me want to take a bus. I know how human nature works and even though the guy is in custody and how unlikely it is that something like this might happen again, I imagine that a lot of people aren't going to be taking the bus and they'll probably be SO HAPPY to see me.
But I probably won't be taking a nap.

Monday, July 28, 2008

O.K., Now I'm Writing A Rock Musical.

I posted my plans on recording a concept album a little while ago. My friend Chris and I were trading e-mails about Joss Weaton's Musical, Dr. Horrible (which is no longer available free, I'm afraid), and he suggested that I try to write a musical. Like my Dad's suggestion that I move to Iowa to finish writing my book, I scoffed at first; but after a while it made a lot of sense, at least to me.

The best part about this is that the songs for it are practically already written, I was already writing a concept album, after all. It takes place 10 years in the future, at the record release show for a failed singer-songwriter. It's kinda like Hedwig and The Angry Inch, minus the gender confusion and plus mass murder. I'm hoping it'll be the most feel-good apocalypse musical ever.

I don't want to talk too much about it now, It's still in the beginning stages. The working titles:
Without You I'm Something(which was the title when it was a concept album)
She's Got The Bomb (which is the title of the song that was the seed of this idea)
A Man, A Song and A Big Fusion Bomb (Which sounded cooler in my head than it does written down)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dustin "Screech" Diamond, American Douchebag

I think there are three things that have had a far reaching (and negative) effect on society:
1. People not taking responsibility for their actions.

2. The growing wave of entitlement.

3. Douchebags being WAY to proud about being douches. It doesn't mean they won't get pissed off if some one calls them that, it's like OJ; he might get pissed if you call him a murderer, but the evidence speaks for himself. If you do an image search of "Illusionist" Criss Angel or "Seduction Expert" Mystery, no picture has less than 6 pieces of douchebag flair. Yes, I count hairless abs as one, the oil that covers the abs for the pictures counts as another.
It's all a bit of overkill, just calling themselves, "Illusionist" and "Seduction Expert" gives them a lifetime douche pass.

Which brings me to Dustin Diamond, who doesn't to be taking his inevitable slide into obscurity very well and is insisting on leaving the unmistakable scent of vinegar behind him. You'd think that if the defining thing about you was that you were SCREECH ON SAVED BY THE BELL would prevent you from walking through like with a false sense of entitlement that makes Kevin Federline look like a monk by comparison, but you'd be wrong. His latest move is a tell-all about his Screech days. It's kind of like the new X-Files movie of celebrity tell-alls: regardless of what's in it, it's way too late for anyone to care.

Sometimes you feel bad when an actor gets typecast, many don't realize that typecasting was going to be the only kind of fame they would ever achieve; Mr. Diamond is one of those people. Instead of being happy of the crumbs he got off of pop culture's table, he keeps coming back like herpes, and he never gets less itchy.
First, he beats up Ron "Horshack" Palillo in celebrity boxing:

He fights a guy decades older and noticeably smaller, but still acts cocky.

Then there's Celebrity Fit Club; there are many douchebag highlights, but this is douchy and dangerous (about 1:30 in):

But the cherry on the top of the shit sundae is his sex tape. Thankfully, no one is interested in seeing it, so let me summarize(from what I heard). He not only gets two women to sleep with him AND preserve the magic moments in video, he also performs one of the most heinous sexual acts this side of the Donkey Punch, the "Dirty Sanchez". Folks, that just bad three-way etiquette. I have never seen the whole sex tape- and hopefully never will- but I did see an excerpt (Not strictly NSFW, really it's just in poor taste. Also I apologize for the link, I couldn't embed it):
Screech bragging

If I was a lawyer for the court of Pop Culture, the bragging at the end of the excerpt would rest my case. He obviously has some sort of hook-up contest with his friends and he feels that there being shit smearing involved earns him some extra credit.


The story I linked to thought that coming out with a book was going out of the normal order of the desperate celebrity move, but I would disagree. When you've sold yourself out all you have to sell are your friends.

Monday, July 21, 2008

4 dollar gas? What 4 dollar gas?

I've been without a car so long, I'd literally have to think hard about how long it's been. I got rid of it basically to get rid of the hassle of the heavy metal burden and the bureaucracy and expense that goes with it; but of course not having one brings brand new hassles. Luckily, I live in a city with an excellent public transportation system(for an American city, that is).

With my new job in-relatively- far-flung Olney, Maryland, the bear of a commute has me actually scanning for cars in the classifieds to buy. It's an inconvenient time to do so, of course, with gas prices as they are. There is nothing that foments people to action quite like an upsetting of the status quo and this- along with the mortgage crisis- is doing this in a way that Americans haven't seen since the late Seventies. But we need to step back from our political ideologies and look at the facts.

We have to do something about fossil fuels, flat out. Some people say we have 50 years of gas, some 500, regardless it's a finite resource, now is a good a time as any to figure out a way to deal with it. With China and India working hard to beat us at our game, consumption wise, we don't have much time.

To the people on the Right- Drilling for more oil is not going to bring oil prices down. Besides the actual time to build facilities and actually pump it out of the ground (some estimates say it may be as long as 10 years), the actual eventual cost savings will only probably be a couple of cents a gallon. People on both sides don't realize how much oil is already being pumped out of the ground already and the vast amounts we already use. Which brings me to..
The people on the left- Bio-fuels are not the answer, especially Ethanol. Besides using more resources to produce than it creates, people like to eat corn. Even if this wasn't the case, if they used every kernel of corn for Ethanol, it would only account about 20 percent of our fuel consumption. We use a fuck-load of oil, folks.

So then what? We have a LOT of natural gas in this country, but we should still use this opportunity to develop more efficient forms of power. The problem is, right now it's nuclear. In fact, it's just about about perfect, if we could just figure out where to put the waste...

Monday, July 07, 2008

Muppets Kicking Ass!

I don't know if you saw Cookie Monster on the Colbert Report, here's the clip(and yes I realize that He isn't a muppet, but he was created by Jim Henson and voiced by Frank Oz)

Milton Berle having his ass handed to him by Statler and Waldorf

Miss Piggy and Raquel Welch, what else needs to be said?

And a double shot of my favorite Muppet, Animal. I wish he could be my drummer, really.
Here's his drum duel with Buddy Rich:

Does violence belong in music, or is it just getting disciplined by Rita Moreno?

This is what I'll offer in place of a (late) July 4th post.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Phoenix:It's F*#kin' Hot Part 2

Part One Here

I wish I was making this up, but Phoenix was recently named "America's Sweatiest City". The average Phoenix resident pumped out 26.4 ounces of sweat per hour, PER HOUR! I spend as little time in the heat as possible, which means that someone else is taking care of most of my share, at least 20 more ounces.

The thing that you notice about the "Dry Heat" is how the air steals all the moisture it can get. Fall asleep with your mouth open and you'll wake up with the dry mouth of a all-night bender. My dad used to say that the flicked dry booger was the state bird of Arizona.

You can only escape the hot, hot, heat of everything indoors with powerful conditioned air. The dry heat allows for the occasion use of a evaporative air cooler, it's just a fan blowing through a damp sponge, but it works really well as long as humidity stays in the single digits. After it rains, forget it. Not even shade can give you much relief. I was at a Sonic and I touched a black metal chair that had been in the shade for a while and it was almost too hot to touch.

Phoenix, it's good practice for Hell.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Immigrant Labor Arts Project

My friend Johanna has started The Immigrant Labor Arts Project to pay day laborers their regular rate to paint pictures. The art they've created is worth seeing and if you feel so inclined, you can donate to keep the project going.

The Immigrant Labor Arts Project

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

School Of Rock 2: The Year After

I just heard that they might do a sequel to School Of Rock. You see, I still like Jack Black and I loved that movie. Honestly, just the fact that he's half of Tenacious D would give him cred with me that not even The Pick Of Destiny could erase. To read screenwriter Mike White's interview that I linked to earlier, it might be a little more bitter than sweet.

I think I loved School of Rock so much because it came from the same energy that I approached music. The essential quote from the movie when Dewey tells the kids how important their rock band project is:"And it may sound easy... but nothing could be harder. It will test your head... and your mind... and your brain, too." That accounts for much of the joy I've gotten out of music, the shear unexplainable "YEAH!" that you get from playing music. I haven't played in a very long time and I miss that a lot, although my enthusiasm has been a double edged sword. It's created some thrilling rock moments and some sonic missteps but the pluses (in my non-objective opinion) outweighed negatives, but not many people joined us at our shows. This would not stop us from giving it our all; in fact we rocked out so hard the night before in front of four people, The Milk-O-Matics Damon's guitar didn't work at our huge outdoor gig we played the next day. Dude, that's what happens when you test your head, mind and brain.
If I was going to write a script for this movie, I would paint my version of a realistic portrait of what would happen in the wake of the events from the first movie. They'd get some attention for their age, more than that shitty band that won the contest at the end (that's what I loved about the bad contest, in the movie as in real life, the best band doesn't win any battle of the bands). However, after the first couple of things that don't go their way and they hear "no" a few times, the band will lose a few under committed members, if not break up outright. A couple members may form their more "serious" musical project soon after, I'm guessing the bass player and the guitar player (dude wrote Mooney Suzuki quality songs in Junior High!). They have some ups and downs but realize that if they make the music they like, they'll have at least one fan, themselves.

It's not as sad as it sounds.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin, Man!

I am so pissed off. Fuck that motherfucking cocksucker. Who does that cunt think he is dying when we still need him? Shit.

Oh, I almost forgot, tits.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Phoenix:It's F*#kin' Hot

No, seriously, really hot. For anyone not familiar with the unique heat a desert summer hits you with, it's difficult to relate. The people I've talked to say, "But isn't it a dry heat?" Yes, when they say, "With the heat index, it feels like 100 degrees!", here it actually IS 100 degrees. Or it would be if it got cooler around here, today it was 113; as of 10:30 tonight it was a brisk 101 degrees.

In a normal summer, temporary relief can be had by a fleeting breeze. Here no such luck, breezes just bring another wave of heat, even at night; like God opened a gigantic oven door.

Sun here is like the sand at the beach, despite your best efforts to prevent it, it gets in where you least expect it. I constantly find myself with a low level burn on my head on days where I wear a hat and have only spent a half hour out of the shade. The homeless people- who are plentiful and aggressive- looked like they've been straight-up braised from all their time outdoors.

Did I mention that I want to move back to D.C.? Yes, I do. I've got a job, but I need a place to live and I would prefer to live with people I know. E-mail me at

Monday, June 16, 2008

People Behind the Music Forgot

The VH1 series Behind The Music was like video crack for a music geek such as I. As I've mentioned before, it's worse in one way, you can't tape crack to smoke it later.

However, my geekiness gives me the ability to call bullshit on some aspects of their version of the rise and fall of some of music's biggest artists.

1. Cliff Martinez and Jack Sherman- The big theme of The Red Hot Chili Peppers episode was the musical brotherhood between the original members before the death of guitarist Hillel Slovak. They fail to mention that this line up was only together for their third album, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan. Jack Irons and Slovak left the Chili Peppers when their more "serious" band What Is This? got a record contract with MCA. How did they do? I bought their album from the dollar store where I used to work. They replaced them with Martinez and Sherman for their first album and Slovak returned for their second.

2. Michel'le- The first honest-to-God pop hit that Dr. Dre was responsible for was for when he rapped on and produced her top 10 single "No More Lies". She also bore him (and later, Suge Knight) a child. Don't you think she deserved at least a mention on his episode?

3. Ed King- On the Lynyrd Skynyrd episode, a lot more is made of King's replacement, Steve Gaines, who died in the tragic plane crash that also took the life of lead singer Ronnie Van Zant after being in the band a year. King played and co-wrote on their first three albums, yet he gets no mention at all. Another fun fact, he also played bass in The Strawberry Alarm Clock ("Incense and Peppermints").

4. Sly Stone- The fact that there is no Sly Stone Behind The Music is- in my opinion- is nothing short of a travesty. Something tells me that the fact that Sly is inconveniently still alive and probably not willing to participate in any way may be the reason. His story has all the elements of the classic BTM episode: hard work leads to stratospheric fame leads to the inevitable drug-fueled decline, not to mention truly groundbreaking music. When people wonder what music someone like Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin might have made, they might look at Sly- who did live- and realize they might not be making music at all.

VH1, make it so.

Thanks for indulging me.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Why Couldn't It Have Been Bill O'Reilly?

The sad and sudden death of Tim Russert is sad on a couple of different levels; there's always the tragedy of such a seemingly decent guy dying an untimely death then there's the symbolic loss for political journalism. There where three men that you could count on asking the hard and relevant questions to those in power if given the opportunity: John Stewart, Bill Maher, and Tim Russert and Russert was the only reporter of the three.

Meet The Press is the absolute gold standard of political interviewing, if you look bad on Bill O'Reilly or Stephen Colbert you've fallen victim to their gimmicks to generate humor both unintentional and intentional, If you look bad on Meet The Press, it was your own fault. Tim never missed an opportunity to show his guests their own hypocrisies and always did it with class.

I almost didn't write this post, but once I did, I knew what the title would be. Bill O'Reilly is in many ways the anti-Russert, he constantly slays the truth for his ego's sake, hoping we'll believe it if he shouts loudly enough. He's afflicted with the disease that many of us- of every political stripe- have; it's true because we say it is, facts be damned. He calls his show "The No-Spin Zone" when you can practically dry your clothes in his actual, factual spin.

Getting a journalist to report the truth is like getting a politician to tell the truth; you'd think it's their job, but they'll go out of their way to prove you wrong. Meet The Press was the real no-spin zone; Tim Russert didn't have to say it, he just did it. Now there's one less reporter doing his job by telling politicians they're not doing their's.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Five Reasons Internet Lists Suck

1. They're instant arguments, this is probably the main reason why they're so popular. The varieties of the "Most awesome/lame things of all time" are absolute in format and often ranked arbitrarily by a self proclaimed expert (or experts). It doesn't help that people that read them treat these lists like they are last discussion on the subject. "How could you have a list of 'Awesome Welsh People' and not include Bonnie Tyler?" Somehow, Bonnie Tyler remains Welsh and Awesome regardless of her placement on a list saying so.

2. They assume that someone gives a shit about your opinion, which is essentially what most of these lists are, opinions. This is indicative of the larger societal problem of the overall shortage of humility and treating our opinions like facts. There is no shortage of shouting these days, let's give listening a try!

3. They generate bad vibes by the bushel. From the subjects of the list to the "flaming" from the commenters, the anonymity of the internet allows us to indulge that little voice inside us that discretion prevents us from saying out loud. Discretion, now that's something we can use more of these days!

4. I can't get enough of them. As much as I've bitched about them already, I read them all the f'n time. I can't believe that they left Red Sonja of a list of "Breast" Marvel Characters and Married With Children off a list of TV Shows That Wore Out Their Welcome.

5. I'm not in any of them.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

At Long Last: Barack!

When I endorsed Barack Obama a year and a half ago, I didn't think he had a chance, I just honestly respected the man and thought he would make a great president. After all of the (inevitable) mud-slinging, I still do. In the past week or so, I've seen him accused of suppressing votes, being a terrorist Muslim sleeper agent, a murderer and a closeted homosexual, and that's just by Clinton supporters(mind you, not by any credible member of the Clinton team).

He's not perfect, far from it and he's-gasp- had to play politics occasionally. The best metaphor I can think of is when I explain my preference for Apple Computers. I end up taking a lot of shit when some new Apple thing doesn't work right. I say,"I never said they where perfect, just that they're better." The "Barack is our savior" meme is not one that I or any other Obama supporter would subscribe to, it's just another attempt for the press to do our thinking for us.

Obama is just better.

(I apologize for not attributing and linking to the people I referred to, I've been sick. If you google "obama gay sex" or something, I'm sure it'll pop up.)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Brushes With Greatness:Jon Spencer and Cristina Martinez

I saw all kinds of political-type celebrities and some music people that are famous to me. I've been able to keep my cool and not get too geeky, but that went out the window when I saw Jon Spencer and Cristina Martinez. If you don't know who they are, this is them in their band together, Boss Hog.

Also, Jon Spencer is in the awesome Blues Explosion(formerly called The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion).

As a couple, they were kinda like a Nineties indie rock Brangelina. All of the guys in my old band (The Milk-O-Matics and I listened to both bands A LOT; going far enough that Damon- our guitarist- and I would scream "Blues Explosion!" at our own shows.

In a Blues Explosion song called "Flavor", Jon proclaims "The Blues is Number One in Kansas City, New York City, Albuquerque" and so on. I co-oped that into one of our songs that "The Milk Is Number One" in various slight burgs throughout Wicomico County," In Fruitland, Willards, Pittsville." Damon said that me saying this might make us seem arrogant, and I asked him if he felt the same way when Jon Spencer said it.
"No," he said, flatly.

However, when they were at the toy store she was just some dishy chick who looked like she was from New York-which she is- and Jon was hiding behind a ENORMOUS beard that he latter turned into some killer muttonchops. I couldn't find a picture of them, sorry.

They had been in the store for about 40 minutes and were almost out the door when I did something I've never done before: A full body geeky fanboy, "OMIGAWD!" I collected myself quickly and said I was a huge fan. Cristina introduced herself, but I knew exactly who she was, I had seen Boss Hog twice-awesome- and I actually stood next to her at a Blues Explosion show in Baltimore. Jon was a bit shy until I told him that the Baltimore show I just mentioned was the best one I had ever seen and he seemed very touched.

They would come in every once in a while, usually visiting family in the area and always go out of their way to say "Hi" and were always super nice. If my 27 year old self knew that this would have happened, I would have plotzed. Cristina especially has an amazing presence, she once turned my head when I was looking in the opposite direction.

They were saying good-bye once when I told Jon that I was going to the upcoming Blues Explosion show and he said that he would put me and a friend on the guest list. I thought that was pretty cool.

Subtlety trying to impress my friend, Hilary, I sidled up to the ticket window, "Yes, I'm on the guest list." I wasn't a dick about it,I was just enjoying my fleeting moment on the catbird seat.
The ticket person said,"Who put you on the list?"
By the authority granted me by the truth, I said, "Jon Spencer."
A minute later, we had our tickets.
We were still in the 9:30 Club lobby when Jon came in the front door, shaking off the cold. When he saw me, he looked shocked.
"I forgot to put you on the guest list."
He had forgotten to put me on the list, but I got in anyway. I am a really bad bullshitter, but when I don't know I'm bullshitting, I'm fucking brilliant!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Your Pal's Movie Cliches:Action Edition

I posted a set of Rom-Com cliches a little while ago that I thought hadn't quite made Roger Ebert's Movie Glossary and I have a few dealing with action movie- a cliche laden genre if there ever was one. Quite a few made the Ebert list, but some didn't (at least I couldn't find them). I'd been wanting to post this for a while, but after seeing the new Indiana Jones movie- or more accurately, how I've seen it written up. People talk about it's implausible situations or obvious CGI like it's the first movie to ever have those things. Indy's not the only thing that's aged 19 years, action movies themselves have been building up bigger, louder and independent of logic ever since those quainter days and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is merely the latest example. For the record, it was much closer to the tone and quality of the earlier Indiana Jones movies that the Star Wars prequels were to the original trilogy.

The Physical and Mental villains- It happened in a lot of 80's action movies, I'll use Die Hard as an example: Alan Rickman was the mental villain, Hans. The mastermind and leader of whatever nefarious operation that has the plot set in motion. Any sort of physical confrontation, however, would be over quickly. This is where the physical enemy comes in, Alexander Godunov in this example. This gives opportunity for a spectacular fight scene where either the bad guy dies spectacularly or is presumed dead only to pop up to get shot dead when every one least expects it. Or both.

The Magic Gear: During a race or chase, when everybody seems to be going as fast as they possibly can, something motivates the hero to shift to a heretofore unused magic gear for them to catch up.

The "at first" superfluous skill: Any skill that any character shows that seems pointless at first will come in conveniently handy at some point.

The "Why?" script: Another big 80s thing: The hero has been given the challenge or task that they will spend the rest of the movie trying to accomplish, they invaribly ask,"Why me?" and the answer is almost always, "Because you're the best."

The killing of the henchman script: Ebert's glossary mentions how bad guys often assert their badness by offing an incompetent henchman, but it doesn't mention that the script for these scenes tends to be exactly the same.
Doomed Lackey: "I'm sorry boss, it'll never happen again."
E-vil Guy: "I know"

The most basic action movie cliche can be described in 4 words: Bad Guy, Bad Aim.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thoughts, I Think

If you watch Last Comic Standing tonight, you might see footage of my failed attempt to get on the show. DO NOT watch it for that alone (not that you would) because I might not be on it, but they definitely got footage of me. oh, and I'm 38 today. At my brother's wedding a couple of months ago, I said I was 37 and my dad said, "But he's going to be 38 real soon!" Like I don't have a whole year to be 38!

Why do they call them ski masks? Nobody thinks you're going skiing when you wear one, they think you're going to rob them. Yes, I believe in starting off strong! No that was not one of my Last Comic Standing jokes, I did about 40 seconds of this song:

I think Angelina Jolie is easily one of the most beautiful women on the planet. You may not agree with me but at least you may agree with that she is beautiful enough that if they don't mention it in her movies it's an instant plot hole. Are we to believe that all her movies take place in a universe where she's just normally attractive? Where she doesn't leave behind a wake of snapped necks and people saying "Who. Is. That?"

This is an ad that's been running a lot around Phoenix for Interactive Male

I just don't think is gay enough, honestly. Some guy's going to think, "Hey, I could use more dude friends!" Next thing they know, they're in a fiction bro-mance.

Friday, May 16, 2008

I'm Sorry, But You're Being F*#king Stupid

One of the biggest problems I have with today's society is how people treat their opinions like facts, in fact it's a basic rule of humanity in my oft-plugged book. That doesn't mean that I don't do it myself, it just means I'm hard on myself when I do it.

I'm a pretty "live and let live" kind of guy. I think of myself as left-leaning politically, but I recognize the importance of the balance that the right wing provides. I'm an atheist but I'm not mad about it, I recognize the need for the spiritual fulfillment that religion provides. But then there's just stupidity, things that flat out people of reasonable intelligence shouldn't honestly believe. But that's just my opinion, of course.

If you think that Barack Obama is a Islamic "Manchurian Candidate" you're just being fucking stupid. Didn't you hear the whole crazy CHRISTIAN preacher thing that the pundits wouldn't shut up about?

It's O.K. to not like same-sex marriage because you don't like the idea of gay people getting married. I don't agree, mind you, but you're entitled to your opinion. But if you think that it homosexual unions denigrates hetero ones, you're being fucking stupid. Do I really have to get into the many way we straight people do that already? Are they afraid that they might make capricious decisions and get married to someone and it doesn't last? How incredibly precedented.

If you believe that Hurricane Katrina was New Orleans punishment for it's sinful way, then you're REALLY being fucking stupid. If I believed in God, I'd think He'd done a better job. The first places to open after the storm were the same sin palaces that were suppose to be it's undoing. If this was God's modus operandi, why isn't Europe facing His wrath like Louisiana did? Why is Vegas- Sin City after all- still standing? It's a city build out of Legos in the middle of the desert, it wouldn't take much.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Tale of Two Cities: Part 2, L.A.

I made my first trip to Los Angeles the weekend before last, my first real trip anyway. About 4 years ago I drove to Long Beach then to Malibu, driving through L.A. both ways. I saw the Queen Mary, the Hollywood Sign and THE mall that spawned the "Valley Girl", but nothing else. Both L.A. and N.Y.C. are centers of the very popular culture that pollutes my mind so I can't remember the correct way to perform CPR. But the sheer pervasiveness of the entertainment business in Los Angeles makes it impossible to avoid.

On the way back from the airport, my friend Anna and I got breakfast at a Silverlake diner. Driving back to her house, we passed by the place where the cover photo from Elliott Smith's Figure 8 was shot, a studio owned by the Black Eyed Peas, the place where the finale of Grease was filmed, the street from the end of No Country For Old Men
and Eric Stoltz's house from Pulp Fiction. Mind you, we didn't make some special trip to see these things, this was just the way home.

I went to Grauman's Chinese and The Kodak Theatre right next to it were the Academy Awards are held and right next to THAT was a mall, all in the same block. It was a nice outdoor one with a huge courtyard, but it's still a mall. I'm sure the employees of the Virgin Megastore get Oscar night off.

Winding through the courtyard was a ribbon of Hollywood related anecdotes attributed to various anonymous sources, and I was shocked how honest some of them were. Some, flat out, did not have the happiest of endings and some were like: "I tried to be a director, but more people complimented the food I made for my release parties than my directing, so I became a caterer." The ribbon led to, I shit you not, a monument of a casting couch.

The sign that the guy is standing in the way of says, "The Road to Hollywood- how some of us got here."

I walked about 6 blocks or so and in that space I saw three separate crews filming and somebody that sounded A LOT like Alicia Keys practicing at S.I.R. studios (She actually played in L.A. the next day, so...)

Anna I went to see Jeanane Garofalo at the World Famous Improv, but not a lot of other people showed up. We had a great time and I actually ruined one of her jokes; she asked "Who was the Rock Of Love guy?"
"Bret Michaels," everyone said.
"Who's the Attorney General?"
I said, "Mukasey."
"I wasn't ready for that, usually I hear crickets when I say that."
The only other famous person I saw was the guitarist for The Plimsouls, if you saw the movie Valley Girl as much as I have that's kind of a big deal.
Oh, and I finally got to sing Pulp's "This Is Hardcore" karaoke. I was awesome.

Despite the attempts to change the aspects of their cities that are less than positive to potential tourists, all the commercialization and gentrification in LA and NYC are a lot like those "One Day Install" bathtubs where they're just putting a new facade over the mildew of it's true nature. That might seem like a harsh metaphor but I mean it as life that exists regardless of any attempt to cover it up and that's what I love about both cities.

I almost forgot,if you've never been frightened by Scientology before, you will be after you visit Los Angeles.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Tale of 2 (American) Cities, Part 1: NYC

I apologize for not writing, flat out, I've been too creatively stunted from depression to post. I actually update my Surviving Retail blog pretty regularly, it's easy to do when I've already written the whole book.

After my weekend trip to Los Angeles, I realized that only good things can happen if I do productive things that I love as much as I can. Writing is at pretty much tops on that list. So I'm going to talk about my experiences in the two iconic American cities: New York City and Los Angeles. Today, New York; Tomorrow, Los Angeles.

I first went to NYC about 10 years ago, basically for just a few hours. The glow as I approached Times Squares started a few blocks away and steadily grew into a nearly blinding brilliance. At 10:30 at night. A gossamer banner of Uma Thurman hung down the entire length of a nine story building advertising her upcoming blockbuster, um, The Avengers. After the deafening thud it would make at the box office it would be gone, a 90 foot Uma Peel merely a happy memory.

The second time I visited was just a couple years ago when I went with a team of friends to try out for The World Series Of Pop Culture. I got a better taste of the city this time, getting to travel in it's famed subway and drink at a honest-to-god Lower East Side dive. The actor that played Zed in Pulp Fiction happened to be there. We found out after my friend Fred, who was a small town boy making his first trip to THE big city, ran into the man he associates with brutal sodomy waiting for him to get out of the tiny men's room.

The next time I went was solo to try out for the pop culture edition of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire". I decided to walk from the Port Authority to Peter Jennings Boulevard, where the audition was, by way of Times Square. The afternoon sun rendered the overbearing lights useless but it still was visual overload.

But the people are the real sight to see in this citiest of cities. Of course there are many attention seekers vying for you,like this guy:

but that's not what I mean. I'd go into some of the stores along the way and all of the retail workers in the studio stores all had the same look on their faces, basically saying wordlessly, "This job isn't NEARLY as cool as I thought it would be." I walked by the MTV studios during the famous TRL, but it was during a commercial or something. When they'd get the signal they would all go completely apeshit; but as I walked by they couldn't have looked more bored if they had showed them Woody Allen movies. If it wasn't for the barricade and extra police, I could have passed them without knowing they were there. I got a look at some of the signs that these girls were waving- or would when told to- and they looked awfully similar, same size, same writing just different messages: "Marry Me, Justin!", "John 3:16" or whatever.

The juxtaposition of Central Park's greenery with the rest of the city stopped me in my tracks, but just me. The thousands of people fast-walking their way through the city mostly kept their heads down. They may have been once wide-eyed like me, but their wonder had been blunted by the numbing of repetition. That's why New Yorkers are so famously blase; if you can get bored there, you can get bored everywhere. Some try to find the perfect coffeehouse or bookstore to soak up bits of obscurity before the rest of America ruins it for them.

For them the magical power that New York City has on me is a natural result of my touristness. So be it.

Friday, May 02, 2008

I'm Going to LA!

I'm going to LA this weekend to visit my friend Anna and we're doing stuff that is cooler with more people, like karaoke (I'm finally going to sing "This Is Hardcore" by Pulp!). Anybody in that area that wants to be a part of the fun e-mail me at

Sunday, April 20, 2008

4/20 Fake News: The Stoned Food Critic

I visited one of those new pizza joints downtown, I'm totally spacing on the name, D'anardo's or Dichico's something like that. They caught my attention during the hour of the Simpson's that channel 5 had at 11 with their commercials with a cartoon dude juggling pizzas that looks a lot like Mario from Donkey Kong. So if you see a Mario-lookin' dude on a commercial, that's the place I'm talking about.

Cheddar, the dude I checked D'whatever's with, said that it was a little dingy, but I wasn't paying attention to that atmosphere shit that he goes for. My nose - and grumbling tummy- kept my eye on the prize and I said, "Garcon, 4 of your finest kinds of pie!"(gotta love an expense account!) Those magnificent swarthy bastards totally hooked me UP! Ched and I dug in with the vengeance.

Man, they were AWESOME! Just, you know, Awesome. Just really awesome. Cheddar said shit like the Lotta Meata pie was too greasy, but I don't know what the fuck he's talking about, it's really fuckin' good! Cheddar always gets on me for not taking this food critic gig seriously, but what can I say? I'm like an umpire, I calls 'em like I sees 'um!

It wasn't all good though, the cheese fries sat in my stomach like a fuckin' rock; though going down they were AMAZING. Between that and the dudes working there making fun of me for suggesting they put gravy on said fries (nobody has taken that suggestion from me, yet), I'm docking them a half star. This means that D'blahblah's gets my lowest rating ever: 4 and a half stars out of 5.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Delaware's unintentional humor

As regular readers may know, I grew up in Lower Delaware. Growing up there, especially before I started driving, sucked. Fun was rare, but there were plenty of locations whose names filled me with sophomoric giggles.

The Assawoman Bay, and of course the Little Assawoman Bay.

Brown and Stiff Realty- Swear to God, their signs were all over the lowest part of lower Delaware, stuck in the front lawn of houses for sale.

The Suicide Bridge Restaurant- I'm cheating a bit, this is actually in Maryland, but they advertised heavily on our local radio stations. This place is still open, despite having the least appealing name I've ever heard for a restaurant. Check out the website at the link, they talk about the suicides that inspired the name AND offer to host your wedding reception. That's right, people actually put on the invitations, "Reception to follow at the Suicide Bridge Restaurant, 6304 Suicide Bridge Road...

Berry's Funeral Home- If you don't get that, say it out loud.

MurderKill River-Fuck you, Pennsylvania with your Brandywine, we've got the Murderkill!

Update: I almost forgot Slaughter Beach! Maybe I was trying to forget because my foot got super infected after I stepped on a horseshoe crab there.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saturday Videos

Is this funny? I think so, but I'm too jazzed to see The Kids In The Hall. Then I become mesmerized with how big their heads have gotten.

I was going to put this one up last week and I flaked.

9/11 Conspiracy Theories 'Ridiculous,' Al Qaeda Says

A guy finds something interesting on his friend's computer

Naked Pictures of Your Buddys Girlfriend - Watch more free videos

These people are the very definition on dumb luck. Sorry I couldn't embed it.

Stupid Game Show Answers

If you haven't seen it, you need to: Saul Bass vs. Star Wars

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Return Of Saturday Videos

Sorry for the absence the past couple of weeks, one Saturday, my brother got married, the other no excuse.

Here's a Vid of one of my favorite characters on my all-time favorite live action comedy, 30 Rock.NSFW

This is the first 5 minutes of Morgan Spurlock's new movie, the fight at the beginning is priceless.
Forgive the stupid commercial at the beginning

Mario's had enough of this jumping on turtles Bullshit!

John Malkovich's commitment to every thing he does is inspiring.

The "If you haven't seen it, you need to" section. South Park did a parody of this last episode and it seemed like a lot of people never saw the original. NSFW

And if you didn't see the South Park Parody

You're Welcome!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Signs The Movie You're Making Is Gonna Suck

With all of the focus grouping and second guessing in the Motion Picture Industry an awful lot of shitty movies get released. This wouldn't make much difference if they made a lot of money to counteract their lack of quality, but this is often not the case. The people whose money really matter is mine and yours.

There are many unofficial rules I use that a movies going to suck that hold strong and true while some (goes straight to DVD, stars Keanu Reeves) have been proven wrong, albeit rarely. These are the surefire ones.

1. When the most famous person involved with the movie is the executive producer.
This is especially true when the person hasn't had the best track record ("from Executive Producer Jennifer Lopez"). I would be the last person in the world who thinks you need proven stars to make a worthwhile movie, but the persons that make shitty movies don't share my opinion.

2. When you make a sequel and you can't get the star to commit, but do it anyway.
This is especially true when the original movie is the biggest one the star has ever done. I mean if you can't get Jeff Fahey to do Lawnmower Man 2, pack it in. Who's Jeff Fahey? Exactly. You can almost guarantee suckage if the star DOES come back when they died in the first one. Then they have to be shoehorned in with flashbacks or improbable resurrection (The "Sean Connery in Highlander 2 Rule").

3. You have to connect two obviously separate scenes to get a laugh in the trailer for a comedy. What? There aren't enough jokes to sacrifice for a thirty second commercial?

4. Your making the third, fourth or more in a series where nobody even realizes there were any sequels at all. Do you know there have been 4 Tremors movies? 8 Hellraisers? 4 Revenge of the Nerds? Have you already turned your browser elsewhere?

5. Three Words: Starring Paris Hilton. She's like the Pauly Shore of the new millennium. Just awful.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Today in Fake News: Made-Up Conspiracy Believed By Conspiracy Theorist

Since The Onion doesn't accept submissions, I have to pose my own fake news.

Eugene, Oregon- Local Conspiracy Theorist Lee Abbott, creator of the web site It's All Connected, is spreading the rumor of another government plot to control the general population that saw it's origin as a joke.

Mike Franklin, who has lived with Abbott for two years explains: "I was at a party discussing Lee's crazy blog and we started coming up with our own out-there plots to crack ourselves up and someone said that the government employed subcultural taste makers to get kids to wear their pants big, so they would fall down if they ran from the authorities."

"I didn't think we went far enough, so I said that they also encouraged facial piercings and tattoos to guarantee that they never infiltrate the upper classes. When I got home, I told Lee about it and I though he'd get the joke, but 20 minutes later it was on his site under the headline, 'Subjugated By Subculture', with a theory that everyone from Fred Durst to Fallout Boy was on the government payroll."

The other people in Abbott's newsgroup have run with the story as well. Gary "Stumps" Campbell of the Altoona Truth Network says, "This merely confirms what many of us have thought for years, that the Military-Industrial Complex will use any tool the keep the "sheep" in line."

Franklin has been shocked at the impact his fictional story has had. "I thought about telling Lee it was just a joke, but how I want to make up more 'conspiracies'. It's just too easy!"

Sunday, March 30, 2008

My Concept Album (really)

I come up with A LOT of ideas; some good, some (most) are bad, but I have learned to use my internal editor to stop me from talking too much about it so I have less to explain when I don't actually do it. The only thing that I talked freely about long before it was done was Surviving Retail because I knew it would happen, eventually.

Which brings me to the concept album. I haven't recorded it, but do have almost all the songs written, which is the time consuming part for me. The concept is: a songwriter is writing his regular songs about music and women. The songs are upbeat, in stark contrast to the lyrics which betray a deep depression. This is where it gets a little more....Right around this time, fusion power is developed to the point where every home has it's own reactor that's powered by running on trash (like the Delorean in Back To The Future). It is quickly found out that the reactors can easily be converted to fusion bombs. Every home has a potential WMD and the paranoia that springs up in society as a result starts creeping in to the songs on the album. The songwriter (let's call him Your Pal) looks at the world around him and sees how everyone is just as miserable- if not more so- than he is. This is where he decides to try to destroy the world. Between hints in his album and numerology on the cover, he tries to get his listeners to set off their bombs after he detonates his at his home record release party after plays the last song. He dies of course, but he doesn't see himself as a mass murderer; he's more of an opportunist. He knows that people, driven mad by the power they have in their home appliances, will do what he has done. By coordinating other people to do it,he will cement his place in history. If there's anyone left to write it, that is. But by default, it's the most historically significant pop album of all time; how many people did Sgt. Pepper's kill?

This concept came together after I noticed that all of the songs I was writing had to do with various kinds of heartbreak and the end of the world. One of the songs, "She's Got The Bomb," got turned into a story that I'm currently writing about the aftermath of these explosions, since Your Pal isn't nearly as popular as he thinks he is.

Possible titles:

Without You I'm Something

Earth Don't Suit You

We've Got The Bomb

Update: I've decided to call it Ragna-Pop.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My First Untimely Death

Late Summer- Early Fall 1989

I was 19, just starting college when I ran into my ex-girlfriend's best friend. This ex and I had kind of a bad break-up, so I wasn't sure if her friend would want to talk to me. I was not prepared for what happened; upon seeing me, she stopped walking, shocked at the very sight of me.
"Pete, I thought you were dead!"

Because I am so very quick on the uptake, I immediately responded with a, "No!"

It turns out that someone from my past had told her that I had drowned at the beach a month before. It was Tommy, my former next store neighbor that I punched once; which was one of my least proud day, I even wrote a post about it. I was at the Indian River Inlet beach, like he said, but I wasn't (that) drunk and I certainly didn't drown. Since it had supposedly happened a month before she found out, she didn't check the news to see if it was true; she even almost called my parents.

I had no idea why Tommy would have said something like that, unless his sense of revenge has a shelf life of more than 5 years. I had even seen him at a party where I met the ex a few months prior, but I thought that he didn't recognize me. I had a lot more hair then than I had 7 years prior- or now for that matter. Most of the kids at the party were my age- 19- and Tommy was very conspicuous being the youngest person there- about 14. It seemed like his brattiness had flowered into delinquency, drinking and smoking pot with the older kids, who were visibly freaked about a 14 year-old grabbing their joint. If he knew who I was, he didn't say so.

Which brings my back to my death. We talked about it, and we decided that her friend should tell her I was still alive. As fun as it would have been to do, I couldn't in good conscience call her and go:
"This is Pete calling....FROM THE GRAVE!"

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Last Iraq War Anniversary Blog! (Hopefully)

I go through my day thinking of things to post here some time big, fat, glowing topics just drift right on by; the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War. After reading the book Fiasco, about the planning of the Iraq war, my roommate-who works in politics- said that his organization put more planning into political campaigns than the Bush Administration did for this war. He wasn't exaggerating.

I've been wrong about so very much in my life, but my mind has never been swayed that the Iraq War was a bad idea. But I'm just a person, what I know about Iraq is what I've taken the time to learn. So when President Bush first said that Saddam Husein was going to have to atone for his role in 9/11, I thought, who said Iraq had anything to do with it? Did he just make that up?

Of course, as through most of the Presidency, we were suppose to take their word for it with a administration-wide game of "Do as I say, not as I do." A lot of us on the more liberal side of things had our patriotism challenged when we balked about war with Iraq, but a lot of us wanted exactly what President Bush said HE wanted: to punish those responsible for 9/11. We were also cursed with memories good enough to remember all of the promises that have been broken in the meantime.

Saddam had WMDs, you know who else does? Us. We sold them to Iraq as a matter of fact. WMDs are great if you want to sit the big boy's table of international diplomacy (which is the reason Saddam loved the idea that people thought he had them), but they are a bad strategic move to actually use. Even if a rogue group got a nuke or nerve gas that they used in any part of the world that they MAY have gotten from Iraq, Baghdad would most likely be blinked out of existence by our own WMDs.

Saddam was an evil guy, without a doubt, but this world is full of evil guys in power. Imposing our foreign policy on this part of the world reminds me of a rich friend I had in High School; whenever I'd have some financial limitation that he didn't, he say,"Can't you ask your parents for the money?" No, I couldn't, and not just because of pride. It wasn't as simple as he saw it.

The simplistic approach of the Bush Administration's "They hate us for our freedom, so we'll force it down their throats" does not take into account the deep ethnic divisions and the economic inequities between them. A basic rule of human behavior is they have to take care of themselves before they can devote time to worry about their freedom. Many Iraqis are happy that Saddam's gone but are now refugees or have dead and disfigured relatives and the lucky ones who might have dodged such peril regularly go without power and water. I wonder how much we as Americans would value our freedom if we didn't have a clean place to take a shit for 5 years.

Another thing that I knew that the War would affect adversely was good old-fashioned political discourse. I had a political discussion with someone on the Washington Metro who was in support of the war because of Saddam's WMDs. We disagreed, but were respectful of each other's opinions and shook hands when he got to his stop. I told him, "The saddest thing about this, is this might be the last civil political discussion either one of us will hear for a long time." I was more right than I could have imagined.

But who could could have foreseen a screw-up this huge? It's not like this couldn't have gone better, like we didn't have people who had the experience to help us avoid this, but were fired for their honesty. The egos of the President and Vice-President won't allow them to admit openly that they've done anything wrong, regardless of all the bleeding, exploding evidence to the contrary; a conceit that even their most ardent supporters can no longer share.

I wish I could have seen where we'd be in Iraq now. I would have loved to ask the people who supported it at the beginning if they still would if they knew for a fact that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and had no WMD program whatsoever. After refusing to believe either or both (Hell, I believed they had WMDs) I believe they'd say that they wouldn't. Well they didn't and don't after six years where the government worked pretty hard to find even the barest tread of real evidence. But our reasons for fighting morphed enough to satisfy most people to believe we're still doing the right thing.

9/11, WMDs, to establish democracy, to fight terrorists? I'm not one of these people who believes that war is never an answer, just not when we're not sure what the question is.

Eatz,Pwns and L3av3s

When I actually went to college, my English professor refused to recognize contractions (you know, can't instead of can not) as proper English. His reasoning was that contractions were born out of improper use of language that became so common that now it's widely accepted. Although I was pissed off at him when he marked my accidental contractions with red ink, I now recognize his way of thinking.

Correct grammar and spelling are incredibly important to me, but it doesn't mean I'm any good at it, though. Thank God I'm living in the age of word processing, though it is disheartening to mangle a word so thoroughly that spell-check either suggests words that are not even remotely close, if there are any suggestions at all (like when I misspelled "thoroughly" writing this sentence, in fact). There are many grammar things that the computer cannot help you with that I've tried to pick up through my writing; if you read my blog posts in chronological order, you can almost pick up exactly where I discovered the semi-colon. I still have so much to learn.

Which brings us to our current age of intentional misspelling. The granddaddy of all this is, of course, Z in the place of S. Boyz, Girlz, it all drives me fuck nutty. For a short time it seemed like "i" for "y" ("Boi") would surpass its popularity, but the "z" still holds strong.

Using numbers in lieu of letter(3 instead of E, ect) has the benefit of being both stupid and confusing, thankfully it doesn't seem to be catching on; it might be because it's easier to just use the real letters when you're chatting online or texting. Which brings me to..

The contractions of texting -l8r,LOL and the like- which blends elements of all of these linguistic peeves and may prove longer lasting for the same reason that regular contractions have; they make life easier. Each spared keystroke puts the eventual case of Carpel Tunnel Syndrome that much further away. It creates a kind of technological snobbery with it's own lexicon that seems hopelessly obtuse to a budding curmudgeon like myself.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"The Speech"

Being very isolated in general, I am not connected into the ongoing reaction to Barack Obama's speech on Race yesterday. I have read a lot of the first reactions with a sense of shame and anger and not any sort of cohesive way to express this. Until I saw Jon Stewart.

Obama's speech was to observers transcendent, historic,cloying, honest and political suicide; sometimes by the same person. But it shouldn't have to be. As Jon said, he spoke about race like we were adults and it's obvious a lot of us can't handle that.

Just taking in the speech before the reactions, I could not get over how amazing it was for him to say what we, as a nation, needed to hear about this most touchy of subjects, damn the political consequences. But the reactions made me realize how right he truly was.

When I worked at the toy store, at the surrounding neighborhood everyday I saw an almost casual kind of multi-culturalism; kids of every color from around the world playing together. But did that mean there was no racism? Uh, no. We as human beings cannot control our prejudice, but we can know that these impulses are wrong and still be ashamed of them.

The kind of racism that displayed itself there was of the reverse kind; where you do something racist while trying too hard not to be racist. I'll explain:
Once a lady didn't want to leave her bag in the store, but she made sure to let my black co-worker know that it wasn't because she thought she was going to steal it. It's the by-product of these politically correct times; in an attempt to prove that everyone's the same, we've forgotten that were actually all different, we just shouldn't be judged by these differences and we shouldn't forget that they exist.

Ignorance is when your smart enough but you just haven't learned enough to know better. It's hard to remedy anything if you don't acknowledge it exists or won't honestly talk about it. What specifically am I talking about, Race, Culture? That nagging cough? What am I NOT talking about?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Your Pal's Cinematic Cliches

Roger Ebert has had a long-time collection of movie cliches called his Movie Glossary. He augments his observations with ones submitted by readers and I've got a few for him; I've checked but I don't think he's covered these yet.


Romantic Comedy has quite a few cliches that often make it possible to know the exact plot just by seeing the trailer.

1.The asshole boyfriend.

If one of of the participants in the budding romcom romance is in a relationship, the boy/girl (more likely boy)friend will be so objectionable, you have no idea what they saw in them to begin with. (Wedding Crashers, The Wedding Singer, ect.)

2. The Helper.

The protagonist has a helper to get (or regain) the heart of his beloved, a member of the opposite sex that is just as cute, much more interesting, and much more in love with him than the original object of his affection. (Some Kind Of Wonderful, Better Off Dead, ect.)

3. The Consolation Prize.

After the couple in the Romcom make their final coupling or after the final break-up, someone is left alone. Suddenly, their eyes meet a new love, so you know they're going to be OK. (Pretty In Pink) Sometimes this new love looks exactly like that person (Better Off Dead, Wayne's World 2)

When ever they show the binocular perspective on a movie, it's always the two images side by side, when we look through them in real life, it's just a single stereoscopic image(countless films).

Whenever someone REALLY needs to see something when they're using binoculars or a telescope, they use their naked eyes to see it instead of continuing to see it more magnified. (Stakeout, Men At Work, Body Double ect.)

I'm pretty sure my friend Ed brought this to my attention but every single to-go coffee cup in New York City seems to be made by the same company. (blue and white with writing on the side)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Saturday Videos

This is an honest-to-God Australian commercial for feminine hygiene products.

Mallrats of Justice- NSFW

You've gotta admire this guy's commitment - Watch more free videos

One Word: Yikes!

You've either seen it, or need to: Kinetic Sculpture

Friday, March 14, 2008

Your Pal Answers Anything!

Earlier this week, I asked my readers to ask me any question about anything (as long as it wasn't about math) and I would answer it. I got a grand total of two questions. I won't protect the identity of the askers because they posted openly on my Myspace, I hope they don't mind.

Liam asks: "Where do babies come from?"

Excellent Question! No one knows for sure where babies come from; I suppose it boils down to your perspective:
If you're the first-time mother of a newborn, your baby came straight from Heaven on a fluffy cloud of dreams. The child will spend much of the next 18 years contradicting this belief.

If you're a childless man being kept awake by a sleeping baby on a plane then babies come from fate to remind them to ask about that vasectomy the next time they go to the doctor.

I think they come from the vagina, but don't quote me.

Jerry asks: "How do you do it?"

Excellent question! No one knows for sure how I do it; I suppose it boils down to perspective:

If you're my Mom, the answer is, "Do what?"

If you're an ex-girlfriend, the answer is, "With as little effort as possible!"

Putting aside anything resembling objectivity, I'll say that I use my natural charisma, boyish good looks and attention to what makes humanity tick to bore you as efficiently as possible.

The blog for my book: Surviving Retail