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, August 22, 2011

My 15 Seconds Of Fame On TheBest Show on WFMU

I called The Best Show on WFMU with Tom Scharpling the other night after being a fan of it and Tom for quite a while. As I put together my podcasts, it’s his voice I hear going, “Work, dummy!” because that’s exactly what he’s done himself. I try to entertain by any means necessary, but he does it, by writing, directing, tweeting, and talking for 3 hours (for no pay!) on the Best Show to a nation’s delight. I wish I had his work ethic, maybe if I’d been born in Jersey.

The Best Show was brought to my attention through the albums released of the phone conversations Tom has had on it with Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster; Tom playing straight man to Jon’s a variety of characters, often from the fictional Newbridge, New Jersey. When I lived in Iowa, I would listen to Scharpling and Wurster almost every day while I wrote my retail book. It was funny, but it was also clever in a way that has influenced my storytelling a lot in the time since.

I hadn’t listened to the show in a while and didn’t know that Tom had just banned all regular callers. It was like driving alone down a 6-lane road. In 1983, my calls for things like Adam Ant tickets in Ft. Lauderdale were answered with a busy signal. In 2011, the host of one of the most popular radio shows in America answered right away.

But I had the wrong number. I recognized Tom’s voice, but I never acknowledged it as he gave me the right line to call. As a listener to the show, I thought it best just to go through the proper channels as to not agitate Tom. He was already dealing with enough from the fallout from the regular caller ban.

As I waited on hold, I got to listen to the show and it was Tom at his prickly best, offering his services as a buffet bouncer so seniors don’t make off with the prime rib. Between that and the Led Zeppelin he played before, it was a good soundtrack to the muted America’s Got Talent that I had on.

What I wanted to share on-air was of a topical nature, in a way. The Gathering of the Juggalos was the weekend before and I used to work with a Jugglette that went. She was smart enough, but oy, the self-created drama! I would start with her joining a dating site called- lord help us all- Juggalove and end with a Justice of the Peace marriage in full ICP-related regalia to a dude we (her ex co-workers following her exploits through Facebook) all thought had died.

I have found it important to write notes when I tell stories like this, so my enthusiasm for telling the story doesn’t make me lose my place. This was what was written on my note page (I won’t subject you to my handwriting). I’ll present without context, because I might want to do a separate post about it and it’s kinda funny that way.

Juggalo that I know
Drama Salvadoran immigrants
Juggalove- Cupcakes, Bonghits, Orgasms, Scrubs
Stadium full of jackasses

Grease Painted White Trash Soap Opera
Jugga-stein 1)allergy 2)Powdered Stimulant
3) Baby Mama
The dude went to jail
She dated a guy that died
And came back then
She married a third guy
Take Status Updates Literally
Quasi Sci-fi Rock Musical

How Many More Times
Elton John

So I was ready when I heard a slight bit of static and,
“Hey Tom, it’s Pete from DC.”
“Hey Pete, how are you doing?”
“Pretty well, it seems better than you, big guy. I wanted to try to cheer you up. As you know, The Gathering Of The Juggalos was this weekend and I’d like to tell you about a Juggalo that I know. If that’s OK?”
I heard nothing, “Hello?”
I was disconnected.

That’s cool. I knew the show, I realized that he could have not been interested and to not take it personally, he cuts off people all the time. To be honest, it was a little bit of a badge of honor for me, as pathetic as that may sound.

Yesterday, I listened to the podcast of the show to hear the rest of the show to hear Philly Boy Roy (Wurster)’s call about the Gathering of the EOTs (enemies of Tom), Tom threatening to rain retribution on his high school bullies …..and check out my call. As I was about halfway through my introduction… my voice cut out. Tom didn’t disconnect me, my fucking phone did!

So, I may call again. I might share my absolutely true story about the taxes I’m being forced to pay for royalties I never received for a hit song that I didn’t write.

And I’ll use a landline.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Irony Alert System!

The thing we forget when we rely on text-based communication is how important body language truly is. With no physical cues or vocal inflections to go by, the raw expression of words paired with our often-poor grasp of grammar can have an unintended impact.

Also, the reconnecting of people over Facebook has it’s own challenges. The people from earlier in your life knew you when you were happy-go-lucky (or as much as you were going to be), before you were beaten repeatedly by fate. They simply aren't used to the sardonic you and, unlike when you were in high school, they now take what you say seriously.

Sarcasm is our gift as English speakers, as most of the rest of the world takes things at face value. I once had to explain it to two Swedish women, but even with the help of another American, I couldn’t explain why something like the Onion was funny, they just saw it as being mean, yet I've rarely been prouder to be an American.

So I created the Irony Alert System, a way to gauge the sincerity of statements, based on the Terror Alert System. Attach it to any blogpost, tweet, status update, or comment. It's an attempt to create more understanding, arguments will continue unabated, but maybe we'll get pissed about the right things.

Red: Irony: using words to suggest the opposite of their literal meaning! I am full-on fucking with you and pulling your metaphoric leg. I don't actually mean a syllable of what I'm saying. This should go without saying, but I'm going to anyway.

On the other end is blue for sincerity. I realize that green is the color on the other side of Terror Alert System, but for me, blue just seemed more apt for the tone; true blue! More earnest than Bono and Jim Varney put together! What I am typing is being dictated from my VERY SOUL! Therefore, all basic rules regarding grammar, punctuation, and over-capitalization will be pushed aside.

Orange: Despite the overall sardonic tone, there’s at least a hint of genuine emotion. To use a personal example: I tweeted a month after the earthquake in Japan whether it was cool to play the song “Radiation Vibe” in front of people yet. Although I was kidding mostly, people don’t actually come to see me play, but if some one said, “Too Soon” (and it was Irony Level Blue), I would understand. It’s the alert color that says, “Hey, I may rock, but I’m not made of stone.”

Green: Discourse on the internet is like a big bottle of snark juice. You can drain it and fill it with sincerity, but you’ll still taste a bit of snark. That’s what the green irony level is all about.

And right in the middle is yellow, the color of yielding. Yielding gets a bad rap these days, but it’s what keep us out of accidents and not just in cars. The yellow alert is wisdom and maturity working together to strike a balance between sincerity and irony. I don’t expect this color to be used all that much.

Friday, July 22, 2011

I'm Back, Baby

The Underachiever's Progress is becoming a podcast. Podcasting seems to be a natural fit with where my mind has been for a while. It's taken me a while to put stuff together and I hope it's as fun to listen to as it is to do.

My motto for it is, "Entertainment By Any Means Necessary", which means: let's roll and see what happens. That's not saying everything that's being recorded is part of it. I'm just opened to the opportunities having live mics in my apartment.

Music, comedy, musical comedy, stories interviews, whatever works. I've already recorded some skits and songs and a VERY loose interview with Filmmaker/uberdrummer Brendan Canty.

I will also be podcasting my Surviving Retail show and a musical called "Ragna-Pop or She's Got The Bomb" but I will also post here more to relieve my need to snark in more than 140 characters.

Stay Tuned.