williamallenpepper

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Archive for the month “March, 2014”

BEHOLD, HERE BE WHINING

I’m not an old man. Given the wonders of modern medicine and the fact I take good care of myself, I hesitate even to call myself middle-aged,though I probably am. So I’d hardly say I’m a victim of grumpy-old-man syndrome.

But…

I’ve reached a point in life where the big faults of humanity – wars, crime, violence, financial misdeeds – don’t really shock me anymore. Appall and disgust, sure, but no real surprises there. The daily, dickish deeds of people, though, are starting to wear on me.

Parents, I get that other parents can be obnoxious. But, really, when you’re dropping off your kid at preschool, is that really the time to air grievances? I’m not sure that dropping F-bombs in a parking lot full of five-and-unders or calling another parent an asshole in front of your kid really is setting the best example. Oh, wait, I am sure. It’s totally NOT setting a good example.

Since we’re on the topic of parents for a moment, here’s another one. Here’s the deal: your kid is awesome. You think so. I think so. Can’t we leave it at that? When you bring your kid to the office, why should you expect that the workers will drop everything and ooh-and-ahh over your kid? Actually, I know why. Because they do. I’ve worked in places where more or less no work got done for an hour or more just because OH MY GOD! THERE’S A BABY IN THE OFFICE! I sort of get it. I like babies. I’ve had babies (not literally, but you understand). But a workplace is not a daycare or a toddler birthday party. If I bring my kid to the office, here’s all I need: a nice “hi”, maybe ask how school’s going, maybe say something funny, then we’ll all move on.

Remember, I told you up top this was a whiny post.

Parents aren’t the only annoying humans. There’s also everyone else.

Decide what you want – AND what your kids want – BEFORE it’s your turn to order at a restaurant or coffee shop.

Pay attention to the road instead of your coffee or your phone.

Pajamas are NOT pants. If you’re going out, put on actual pants. (If you follow me on Twitter @carnivalofglee I’ve been very clear about this.)

Stop calling to sell me stuff. Or to do a survey. I get there’s a “do not call” list that’s dubiously effective with screening solicitors, but it doesn’t apply to companies you already do business with, so I’m screwed there. It also doesn’t apply to organizations that take surveys. But here’s the thing, you’re job as a survey-taker is to record my responses. If you call me seventeen times and seventeen times I refuse to take your survey, that should clue you in that I don’t want to take your survey and it’s a waste of time calling me.

If you’re having a crappy week, don’t go on the Internet to whine about it. (Whoops.)

Trust me, I know daily life is a mixed bag of some good, mostly okay, occasional crud. Just like I know I’m not innocent of occasional dickish behavior myself. Anyone who says they haven’t been a dick at some point is lying to you. Or themselves. Or both. That’s sort of meta- dickish,right there.

And it makes the blogging world go round…

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WHY WE NEED COSMOS RIGHT NOW

“Celebrity scientist” Neil deGrasse-Tyson is hosting a reboot of the venerable science series hosted decades ago by the equal venerable Carl Sagan. If you haven’t watched Tyson on TV or listened to his podcasts, you’re missing out. This guy is part of a vanishing breed. Celebrity scientists are an endangered species. Sagan passed away years ago. So, let’s see, there’s Tyson, Bill Nye the science guy, Brian Cox, Brian Greene, and unless there’s some other Brian with a Ph.D I don’t know about who looks good on camera, that’s about it.

The Cosmos reboot debuted simultaneously a few Sundays ago on TEN TV networks, including Fox and National Geographic channel. It netted about 8.5 million viewers, including those who watched it in real time and those who DVR’d it. By traditional network TV standards, that’s not much. But in the modern,splintered entertainment landscape, it’s pretty respectable, especially for a Fox show Seth MacFarlane isn’t involved in.

Oh. Wait. Except, he actually is. MacFarlane is an executive producer on Cosmos. I’ll give you a moment to wrap your mind around the concept of Peter Griffin producing stories about the origins of life on Earth.

Welcome back. Cosmos is phenomenal TV. Remember when you were a kid in school and you’d take a field trip to the science museum? You’d sit there in the dark watching those really cool movies about the solar system. They looked like Star Trek episodes, but with stirring narration that made you want to stop cheating off the smart kid in your physics class and learn something.

They were inspiring. They were fun. This show is like that.

In a world where the decision of what to teach our kids is increasingly determined by politics rather than facts and science, where NASA is quickly becoming irrelevant, and where private rich people are driving technological and scientific innovation rather than taxpayers and higher learning institutions, we need something, ANYTHING that might make kids curious about the world around them again.

This show could be it.

I hope.

I’M SORRY – ST. PATTY’S DAY EDITION

Either there’s a leprechaun in my cranium dancing the hokey-pokey or it was an awesome St. Patty’s Day. (You might have expected the leprechaun to do an Irish jig, but he’s unpredictable that way. Damn him.)

So, I survived another one. Nothing to do now but sit back and wait for the phalanx of process servers to march up to the walls of ye olde Gaelic castle and deliver the bevy of lawsuits which surely await me.

Better start digging that moat of Guinness.

Whilst I wait for my minions to fetch my moat digging attire, I shall dip deep into my pot o’ gold…plaited apologies for the wrongs I have perpetrated.

Cue the shillelagh.

I’m sorry that Irish whisky is so tasty. Really, really, really, really, really *passes out*

I’m sorry moldy cheese doesn’t count as festive green St. Patrick’s Day fare. I forgot to go shopping. So sue me.

I’m sorry you weren’t amused when I promised you a treasure chest full of jewels for your birthday, then gave you a bowl of Lucky Charms instead. It was funny! Really. Don’t you think it was funny? Hey, where you going?

I’m sorry that, as it turns out, St. Patrick and “Dallas” star Patrick Duffy are NOT the same guy. Boy was that awkward.

I’m sorry the luck of the Irish is a poor substitute for a functioning parking brake. But how ironic is it that the car rolled down hill right into a St. Patty’s day parade? ON ST. PATTY’s DAY. Note: I may not actually understand irony.

I’m sorry that my plan to export to St. Patrick’s Day the Mardi Gras tradition of throwing beads to get people to flash you never caught on. Equally sorry for injuring all those bewildered people walking by. I hope to apologize at my arraignment.

I’m sorry I forgot which rainbow I left my pot of gold at the end of. Have you seen it? Big, archy-looking thing? Really colorful? Answers to the name Evelyn?

I’m sorry that St. Patrick’s Day comes but once a year. Picking up empty bottles on Tuesday, March 18th keeps me in Hershey bars and thumbtacks well into the end of July.

I’m sorry those green plastic St. Patty’s Day hats you get at the drug store don’t hold more liquid. Because…reasons.

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

THE NOMINAL BLOG

The four-year-old sees a commercial: “That’s the show we’re gonna watch.”

Me: “No,that’s just a commercial. The show’s on later.”

Four-year-old: “Later takes a long time.”

I’m thinking about later right now. (Oooohhhh. Meta. I’m using that right, aren’t I?) More specifically, I’m pondering the stuff that exists between NOW and LATER.

Meal time, playing with the kids, phone calls, looking at Tumblr, writing the blog, feeding the cat, washing the dishes, washing the cat (messy eater), trying to have a conversation with another adult, probably failing because the kids needs something or work intrudes, sleeping…on and on and on and on.

Every day pretty much like the other. Not a rut. Not exactly. But there’s sure a hell of a lot of sameness. That sameness consists of a whole string of events and actions that make up a life.

Dictionary.com defines “nominal” as…(Don’t you hate it when people use the dictionary definition in a speech or an essay? Me too, but deal with it anyway)…

“(of a price, consideration, etc.) named as a mere matter of form, being trifling in comparison with the actual value; minimal.”

I give you a dollar, you give me a houseboat. The dollar is a nominal price for the houseboat. Probably. Especially if it was MacGyver’s houseboat. That was pretty cool. Remember when Murdoc used a blow torch to carve “R.I.P. MacGyver” in the wall? Freaky.

Anyway, what was I talking about?

Right, for most houseboats, a dollar is trifling price.  A pittance. The boat is really worth a lot more, but for whatever reason (probably involving lewd photos) we’ve just agreed on this nominal amount to complete the transaction.

Life is kind of like that.

Lewd.

Wait. No. I meant the nominal transaction part. All the little, day-to-day crap is trifling, busy work. Will the Earth stop revolving around the sun if I don’t look at photos from the set of the new season of Doctor Who filming right now? Probably not (but I don’t know that for sure). BUT, while looking at those photos is little more than time-killing while waiting for the kid to get ready for story time, doing so makes me happy. The nominal activity of scrolling through pictures on the Internet for a few minutes enriches my personal life, which is a huge, not-nominal thing.

Sometimes you have to make time to do BIG NOT-NOMINAL THINGS. File your taxes. Get married. Get buried. Decide whether to go with gin or bourbon (Kidding about that one. Kind of.) Send the kid to college or blow the fund on a European vacation. These are all tent-pole events that, in the end, give a life its overall structure.

But all that nominal stuff in between? The Internet photos and Twitter and debating with your kid if Hulk or Superman is stronger and eating Cocoa Puffs not because they’re good for you but just because they’re GOOD…all that stuff is what actually makes the day-to-day life you have to live. Don’t feel bad for taking time for the nominal. It’s called living.

We all gotta do it, so might as well enjoy it.

So what are your not-nominal-nominals?

DOES “SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION” MEAN ANYTHING ANYMORE?

This is a novel I wrote some time ago:

cover_scan

When it came out, e-books weren’t really a thing. There was social media, but tweeting every thought and DM’ing each other hadn’t yet replaced social discourse.  Phones were smart, but not that smart.

There was no Smashwords.

But there is now!

This book is available on Smashwords (among other places in print and e-book). And I’m pimping it wherever and whenever I can.

Because that’s what people do now. Self-promotion isn’t to be apologized for anymore. It’s to be expected.

I don’ t know if that’s good, bad or indifferent. But I do know, when Smashwords decided to offer “Read An E-Book” specials all week, March 2-8, I wanted to get in on it. Never mind that my book is a holiday-themed Santa Claus story for adults and it’s March. Here’s a free chance to promote!

So I did.

Also, it’s a pretty darn good book. At least I think so.  Go check it out. You can order it anywhere all year round, but this week only, on Smashwords, IT IS FREE. Go get it, pay me nothing. All I ask is that, if you like it, leave a review somewhere, on Smashwords or wherever.

So that’s it. I have no shame, you have a free book.

Seems fair, doesn’t it?

 

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