Monday, February 19, 2018

An Iconette's Tale

Yes, it's true. I am an Iconette.

I was there at the very place and time that the 1960’s morphed into the 1970’s.

It was 1974.  I was hanging in my favorite singles bar, a place called Grendel’s Lair, a disco that was widely known in Philly as "the disco for folks who hate disco."  My hair was long, my jeans were ripped, and I had on a plain blue work shirt totally devoid of alligators or other obnoxious insignias over either the right or left side of my chest. 

Grendel's Lair was a down-to-earth place with the feel of your best friend's basement if it were ten times larger and smelled unrelentingly of beer. The music was still mostly Grateful Dead, George Harrison, and David Bowie, but lately we'd begun to notice a change

Enter guys with hair combed straight back and cut above the ears sporting flowery shirts and visible chest hairs. Added to that were women with platform shoes, too much makeup, and perfume that was so pungent it would send the actual Grendel scrambling back to his lair as fast as he could slime.

And the music was beginning to change as well.

On that night I went outside to get a hit of fresh air.

Alone and sitting on the front steps to the place was a very disconsolate very freaky looking young guy with thick brown hair to his shoulders and a mighty beard who seemed like he was almost about to cry me a river.

"I just don’t get it,"  he muttered. 

"What don't you get?" I asked.

"The awful music they're playing! Who's this Barry Mani-Blow anyway?"

“He's got a lot of hits."

"I could never dance to this!"  


"If only they'd put on Sugar Magnolia ... I’d dance all night.”

In that moment the sixties received last rites and the 70's crawled into the world mewling and puking in the nurse's arms

Grendel's Lair eventually turned into a men's clothing store and soon I began going to the glitter discos just like all the others. I even got to like the music of Donna Summer, the Bee Gees, and Barry Mani-Blow, at least enough to dance to it while generally haplessly trying to come on to women who seemed able to dance to it a hell of a lot better than I did.

But I always wondered about the freaky looking guy with the mighty beard who transformed the sixties into the seventies with a simple rueful observation that his time had passed.

I wonder if he ever donned a flowery shirt, opened it down to a well-scrubbed navel, and wound up a prosperous investment banker.

No matter.  

For me, he was an icon.

And that makes me, I guess, an iconette.


Friday, February 16, 2018

Podcast Perry

Marc Maron, eat your heart out!

It wasn't so long ago that I thought the word "podcast" referred to the names of the actors in The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. But once I learned about podcasts I've seen them proliferate over the years such that virtually everyone in America either has one, frequently guests on one, or is Larry Wilmore.

Actually even Larry Wilmore has one.

As part of the whirlwind promotion for my new book in this, The Year of Perry Block, I was scheduled by my publisher Donna to do my first podcast. Now all throughout my life public speaking has never been a problem for me because all throughout my life I've always managed to avoid public speaking.

But if this is The Year of Perry Block, It's time for me to step up and speak up --- if I don't pass out first.

"What if I screw up?" I asked Billy Dees, purveyor of the podcast.

"You'll be fine," Billy replied. "I'll get you through it. Nobody screws up."

We began the show. Billy asked about my background. This is a tough one for me because the most significant achievement of my adolescence was breaking my addiction to destroying Styrofoam.  But I exaggerated the experience, and I think it played well.

Moving on, we discussed how I attended the one comedy club in Philadelphia  in the early 70's to watch my friend perform stand-up while I cowered next to the Exit Sign.  My beginning to write humor in my thirties, the first examples of which were rejected by the American Journal of Accountancy for being too dry. And my later development of the Human Resources Comedy Troupe, a sort of SNL for Human Resource professionals which led to my being the first person in history to be excommunicated by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). 

Not only did I notice Billy stifling yawns, he actually put on pajamas.

"How did you begin writing your blog, Perry?" he asked.

"Well, Billy," I answered, "when I started on Twitter in 2010, I didn't know much about social media. I thought 'Twitter' was the dirtiest sounding clean word in the English language."

"And the blog?"

"Boy do I hate that word!  It sounds like the sound you make just before you are about to throw up. BUUULLLLOGGGGG!"

" ... see.  What is the meaning of "Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute?"

"It refers to Boomers hitting the age of 60 who hate the idea they're old so they say things like 'I'm old but I'm just beginning to be old' or --- since I'm a pretentious jerk --- 'I'm old but I'm Nouveau Old!' As for Formerly Cute, just look at me!"

"Okay, that's just swell!" said Billy. "Thanks for joining us, folks. Perry's book Perry Block - Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute is available wherever fine books are sold ... along with his."

"How did I do?" I asked Billy.

"Remember how I said nobody screws up?"

"Sure do!"

"So I was wrong."

Nah, he didn't really say this. 

Here's the link to the podcast together with a very nice introduction by ace podcaster Billy Dees.

Listen to it with someone you love.

After all, this is The Year of Perry Block.


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The School for Evil Twins

Good morning, everyone!

This is the first class of your freshman introductory Being a Prick 101 here at the Diablo School for Evil Twins.   

If any of you are now realizing you are in the wrong class, please note that Cackling Malignantly is in Room 672 and Nailing the Good Twin's Girlfriend 201 is  across campus in the Sinestro Builging.

I'm your professor, Damian Malveo.  

Now each of you is the specific one-half of a set of twins who wishes to imperil  humankind to the brink of cataclysmic destruction. All your life you've been an annoying little twit, b
ut by the time you finish your education here you will so wicked and depraved you will be to your good twin like Paul Ryan is to the guy who used to be Paul Ryan!

Now, why be an Evil Twin?

1) Really cool music plays whenever we strut onto the scene.

2) Love the way our dedicated though half-witted lackey Bruno says "Right away, Boss!" 

3) Great fun to explain our evil plot to the good twin after demonically chortling "Now, Dear Brother, that you can no longer do anything to stop me,  ha-ha-ha-ha ...!"  

Class, I'm about to distribute a very special piece of  "Evil Twin Equipment."  Here are your dark black goatees, everyone! Some are flecked with gray, your choice; remember to wear them at all times to distinguish you from the good twin."

"Mr. Domer? You have a question." 

"What if my good twin has a goatee himself?"

"Good question, Mr. Domer. Then we add an eyepatch, jagged scar, or full- face Jack Palance mask.  All that is covered in Being a Prick 201.

Ready, everyone?   One, two, three...ADHERE!

Terrific!  All of you look really evil. Especially the women. 

Now here's a question for all of you to ponder:

Why should an evil twin never bind the good twin to a laser beam or perch them over a tank of piranhas and say "I will take my leave of you now; Goodbye, brother!" and then exit the room?"

"Because they might escape, Professor?"

"Very good, Plotkin!  Many evil twins make this mistake and the prisoner slips  away to thwart their dastardly plans. This will be on the mid-term.

Next question:  Why do evil twins never tie the good twin down and force them to listen to ABBA?"

"Because even we are not that cruel?"

"Absolutely right, Ms. Comstock! Even we are not that cruel."

Now class, we are going to spend the rest of our time today discussing how to fool your good twin into thinking the phrase "I know there is still good left in you, brother!" is actually starting to get to you.

Tomorrow, we'll focus on methods and techniques for Tricking the Good Twin's Dog into Thinking You're the Good Twin. This can be very valuable in getting your face licked to lure multiple characters to their doom!

And remember, everyone: Death Ray Class Monday at 10:00 sharp! Come prepared to destroy the city.  If you don't feel ready to destroy a major American city yet, please see me after class. 

We'll annihilate a small town like Havertown Pa and work up from there.


"And class, both you and your twin should check out Perry Block - Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute.  It WILL be on the Being a Prick 101 final!"

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Come Blow Your Horns

I have always been of the mind that car manufacturers are missing out on a major innovation that would make driving safer and more stress free.

We’ve all been there. You’re waiting second in line at a red light.  Ahead of you is a 2008 red Dodge pickup truck on the rear bumper of which is affixed a bumper sticker which proclaims “I’m the NRA and I don’t like you!”

The light changes. The car ahead, however, does not move.

The driver of the vehicle you surmise is probably fantasizing about hunting quail with an assault rifle. It looks for sure like he is not going to move forward any time soon, and certainly not during the big hunt. 

You try to lightly tap the horn on the side of your steering wheel to nudge him into moving. But your judgment and hand/eye coordination fail you and instead of the intended short beep, your steering wheel gives forth with:




Frantically you seek to assure the driver ahead of you - whom you can now see is a broad-shouldered muscular fullback type of dude -  that you didn’t intend the explosive blast. You wave your arms back and forth frenetically as if to say “No, no, no – that’s not what I meant!  I meant a soft beep, a friendly beep, a cute adorable beep!”

But it’s too late!  He’s out of the car and over to you!  Muscles rippling! Tattoos bulging!  You passing out!

 “Y’know, friend,” he says, “that happens to me all the time too.  I always hit the horn too loud when I just want to tap it.”

So that’s it. He only wants to commiserate. 

“Yeah,” you say. “Ain’t it a bitch?”

“Sure wish somebody would come up with a fix for it,” he laughs, gets into his  NRA-mobile, and drives off.

Well, somebody has. 


Presenting my innovation “Nice Horn/Mean Horn.”

Cars will come equipped with two horns on either side of the steering wheel. One is for when you wish to pleasantly signal the distracted driver ahead that red has given way to green and the other is for when some malignant jerk almost crashes into the front end of your car and causes your air bag to deploy.

Never again will you accidentally upset a dawdling driver such that he exits his car and stuffs you into his gas tank.  Just hit the Nice Horn.

And never again will you accidentally sound a soft ineffective beep when you mean to assault a vehicular villain with a blaring blast somewhat akin to the voice of the late Ethel Merman.  Just hit the Mean Horn.

That’s Nice Horn/Mean Horn.

Wouldn't you like to have my nifty innovation behind the wheel?  Here's hoping someone at General Motors, Ford, Toyota, or even Matchbox Cars picks up on this and makes it a reality.

And don't forget, folks, my new book Perry Block - Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute is available on Amazon right now. It's all dressed up with nowhere to go ... except into your arms!  

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Taking My Book to the Streets

I’ve been attempting to promote my new book Perry Block- Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute and so far sales have been slow. So slow the picture of me on the front of the book has  fallen asleep.

That’s slow.

I’ve been attempting to push the book on Facebook and Twitter with scant success. True, a posting about my book is not as scintillating as a post about someone’s lunch, but it is dispiriting to work for a year on your ultimate life statement and have some guy post a picture of his heated-up frozen lasagna and get 78 likes to your three.

So I realize I can’t promote my book just on social media. This is going to require hand-to-hand combat.

I’m going to take my book to the streets!

"Say, friend, did you know there's a great new book called Perry Block-Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute."

"License and registration, please."

"Of course, Officer. You know, I think you might like my new book.  Are you a Boomer by any chance."

"No, I'm a police officer. Why were you going 60 miles an hour in a 25 mile an hour zone, sir?"

"I wanted to attract your attention. I saw you in my rear view mirror and I thought 'That looks like a law enforcement professional who likes to read humor!'"

"I prefer Restoration Comedy. Out of the car!"

Well, that didn't work so well. I took my $105 dollar ticket and went to a fast food drive-thru for a quick inexpensive lunch.

"Big Ass Burger, Fries, and a Coke, please."

"Yes, sir. Would you like anything else?"

"No, but you might like my new humor book Perry Block-Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute. Perfect for Boomers."

"I'm 18, sir."

"In that case ... could I have some ketchup packets, please?"

While choking down lunch, I had a thought.

"Rabbi Debbie," I said, entering her office in the synagogue,"could you help me promote my new book on Saturday?"


"I'd like the Bar or Bat Mitzvah boy or girl to say 'Instead of a new tallis, the gift I really want on this special occasion is Perry Block-Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute!'"

"That's not appropriate."

"I'm just trying to be fruitful and multiply sales."

"How is it going so far?"

"My book is to readers like roast pig is to Orthodox Jews."

At least the Rabbi bought a copy. But I'm not done.

I'm taking my book to the streets.

I'll probably see you there.


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Hamill Town, An American Star Wars Musical


Lin-Manuel Miranda has done it again!
What has the creator of one of the hottest shows ever to play Broadway done?
Nothing less than double his remarkable success with the opening of his latest musical, a hip hoppin’ retelling of the Star Wars legend called Hamill Town!
Miranda's second tune-filled masterpiece presents a play within a play as the residents of a small Kansas community named after an actor who was box office poison for 40 years annually presents a thrilling Star Wars pageant.
Opening with a rousing tribute to the town of Hamill Town (Welcome All to Hamill Town), the townsfolk enact the tale of Alexander Skywalker, abandoned by his father and living on the forgotten spot planet of Tatooine. 
Longing for more, Alexander finds himself in the middle of the Revolutionary War against the Empire.  Befriended by the leader of the Revolution, Obie-Wan Washington, Alexander shares adventures with Chewbacca Adams, the Marquis de R2-D2, Jabba the Jefferson and his enigmatic rival Darth Burr, who may actually be his father. 
The play ends spectacularly in a light saber duel between the two as Skywalker sings "Who Lives, Who Dies,George Lucas Tells Your Story.

Once again the incomparable Miranda stars in the lead role and his voice is as strong and lyrical as ever as he sings:

I'm blasting into space
To save the human race
And through my veins does course
The Mighty Feder-a-list Force!

A revelation in the role of Darth Burr, however, is Nicolas Cage. Who'd have thought he could sing hip hop?  Who'd have thought he could dance? Who'd have thought he could act?

If you've got a trust fund, rich uncle, or are a porn star who's had sex with Donald Trump and recently received your lump sum payoff, get yourself down to the Helen Hunt Theater and marvel to Hamill Town!  

And good news! Word is that before long Lin-Manuel may have a third hit show on his hands, a musical based on the life of one of the beloved stars of the movie The Wizard of Oz.

Personally, I just can't wait for:I TOWN

Nels Noodleman is a nationally known and reviled theater critic who writes on the Broadway stage.  Whenever he's discovered writing on the stage, he's usually thrown out of the theater. Over the course of his checkered but mostly plaid career Nels has reviewed all of the major Broadway plays of the last half century. 

Someday he hopes to see them too.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Groundhog Day II



Phil Connors                           Rita Hanson
Larry the Camera Man             Ned Ryerson
The Piano Teacher                   Sonny & Cher
Alarm Clock Clicking Sound


Phil Connors is in bed asleep in his hotel room in Punxatawney PA. 


SONNY & CHER (on the radio)
They say we're young and we don't know
We won't find out until we grow ...
I got you babe, I got you, babe... 

Phil gets up, yawns, and stretches.

It's Groundhog Day. I’ve got to get to work.

Phil leaves room, grabs two cups of coffee and Danish, and meets Rita and Larry at Gobbler's Knob.

Phil, over here, we're setting up for our shot of Punxatawney Phil.

Here you go, Rita and Larry! I've brought you coffee and Danish. 

Take your coffee and Danish and shove it, Phil!

Why, Larry?

It took 83 Groundhog Days for you to think to bring it to us, jerk!

But, Larry ... Rita ... how do you know that?

Phil, we know you're living the same day over and over again!  You're able to continuously improve yourself every day and you don't get any older. Who'd you have to shtup to get a deal like that anyway?

Well, I didn't actually...

Why did you get this arrangement?  Why not someone deserving like Abraham Lincoln? Mother Teresa?  Why not Larry and me?!

Get the hell out of here, Phil!

Perplexed, Phil goes back to his room and back to bed.  



SONNY & CHER (on the radio):
… I got you babe, I got you, babe... 

PHIL (startled)
Oh! Another Groundhog Day!

Phil gets up, leaves hotel room, and goes into town. 

Ned!  Ned Ryerson, the insurance man.  Come on over, buddy!

Fuck you, Phil!

Why, Ned?

It took you 126 Groundhog Days until you acknowledged me! And only because you were desperate for insurance against attack by people pissed off by the sweet Groundhog Day deal you got.  

All right, Ned, I'll buy more insurance. Life. Health. Pet. I'll insure a boat and I don't even have one, I get seasick!

And when are you going to pay me for the policies you already bought? Let me guess: Tomorrow? Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha!

But ... but... but...


Get the hell out of here, Phil!

Very upset, Phil goes back to his room but almost as soon as he lies down ...



SONNY & CHER (on the radio):
… I got you babe, I got you, babe... 

PHIL (Flustered, hands over his head)
Another Groundhog Day!  They're coming faster than ever!

Phil stumbles out of room, sits down next to piano teacher, and starts playing.

Mr. Connors, I have to say your piano playing sucks.  Next to you, ABBA sounds good.

But this is just my first lesson with you.  I can't be expected to...

First lesson?  Try 137th lesson! Everybody knows you repeat Groundhog Day over and over again!

But I try to improve myself a little each day.
By playing piano? Why aren't you doing something to benefit humanity! At 1,237 Groundhog Days you should be Batman by now!

Well, I tried that, I looked bad in tights.

Get the hell out of here, Mr. Connors!

Crazed, Phil lurches back into his room. Almost immediately ... 



SONNY & CHER (on the radio):
… I got you babe, I got you, babe... 

PHIL (exasperated, arms flailing)
No! No! Not another goddamn Groundhog Day!

Phil staggers out of the room to Rita. He shows her a large ice sculpture of her face.

PHIL (hopefully)
Look, Rita, I've made a lovely ice sculpture of your face.

RITA (sneering)
Terrific, Phil.  You've received the greatest gift ever bestowed upon a human being, and you play in the ice and snow!

But it's for you!

2,034 Groundhog Day do-overs and you're building snowmen? Why aren't you at least Batman by now?

I may not be Batman, but I did save Brian Doyle-Murray from choking.

Big deal. What movies has he been in lately? 

But Rita, I love you!

Really?  Ever think it might have helped if sometime during all these thousands of Groundhog Days …

Yes, Rita?

You took a fucking shower?!

SONNY & CHER (walking on stage)