williamallenpepper

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Archive for the month “June, 2014”

FASHION VICTIM

I’m not sure about the basic cable landscape currently, but a while back, fashion shows were huge. Everything from contests to design high end fancy duds to cheap ways to look good. The shows all featured PROFESSIONAL CLOTHING-TYPE PEOPLE speaking very earnestly about lines and hems and color contrasts and which pant (always singular; never “pants”, you pathetic hick) goes with which shirt. They wept openly over the agony of picking the right jacket to complement a v-neck or crew cut collar.

I regarded these shows the same way I look at cooking shows, which are huge now. Food porn does the same thing the fashion shows did. Cooks and judges speak so eloquently about the ingredients and the texture and the presentation and plating of the food and on and on. No one on cookimg or clothing shows ever just says,”nice shirt” or “Yeah, those eggs were tasty.” They all need to read epic poems about their feelings on the subject of food and clothes. If C-Span infused as much effusive blather into its broadcast day – as opposed to the dry, robotics monotone it normally broadcasts in – C-Span would be the highest rated cable network.

I bring all this up because for whatever reason, I’ve been thinking about my relation to clothes this week.

Why do people flock to stores that primarily sell merchandise with their own store’s logo on it? Not to single them out, but Old Navy comes to mind. Think this through,people. You’re paying for a shirt that says “Old Navy” then you walk around wearing it. You’re a human billboard. You paid for a shirt AND gave Old Navy (or whoever) free advertising on your dime.

Weird.

In other news, my daughter is eight. While not yet a teen obsessing over her wardrobe, there are troubling early warning signs. Getting dressed in the morning is taking longer and longer. Lots more frustrated sighs over the quality of leggings in her drawer. Lately,she has taken to cinching her t-shirts to avoid looking “baggy”.

It’s only going to get worse from here isn’t it?

And me? My day job wardrobe is pretty decent. I can put a tie and shirt together pretty week. I have a reasonable sense of taste. My free time wardrobe does consist largely, if not exclusively, of a Doctor Who t-shirts. Dinner out probably involves boring khakis and a shirt that doesn’t have a TARDIS on it.

Not great. Not bad. Just not naked.

Which, we can all agree, is a good thing.

ONCE IN A WHILE…

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I want my kids to journey as far as they want to go, then go a little farther just to see what’s out there they might be missing.  I want them to run and swim and fly. To make up games in the yard, pausing to take time to watch a spider spin a web. I want them to embrace technology as a tool to make life better, not to replace life all together. I want them to laugh and play and ask questions. I want them to grow and learn and become outstanding individuals. But once in a while? Well, once in a while it’s awfully nice when the two of them are willing to sit together in a Spider-Man tent quietly watching TV in the family room.

I’M SORRY – FATHER’S DAY 2014 EDITION

Whether you had to post bail or he was released on his own recognizance, all across the land, dads have been enjoying Father’s Day with their families.

Meanwhile, families who have to see their dads ALL THE TIME and not just on alternating Sundays between two and four, have been enjoying recycled gifts from Christmas and awkward small talk over grilled burgers burnt on the outside and raw on the inside.

But now it’s time to put down the whisky/tranquilizers/weaponry and face up to your Father’s Day shortcomings. Cheers to you, Daddy-O!

I’m sorry you found the necktie I got you distasteful. I still think if you’d turned over the dead the guy it was attached to and got a better look, you’d feel different.

I’m sorry I picked the wrong wine to go with the grilled steaks. But I really, really, really want that pony! I’ll take care of it, honest! Next time, I’ll wine about America’s crumbling infrastructure.

I’m sorry breakfast in bed didn’t work out. Next time, I’ll wait until you’re awake before pelting you with hard boiled eggs.

I’m sorry about the fire. I get now that “If a bonfire is good, a BON-flagration must be better” is not a good motto.

I’m sorry I said Superman would be a better dad than you. On the other hand, have you seen you in tights?

I’m sorry the dads on TV sitcoms are usually dumb. Nothing to do with you, really. It just bugs me.

I’m sorry about the softball game. I really did think there was a bee on your shoulder. Yes, a rolled up newspaper would have been a better thing to whack it with. But on the upside, the drugs are awesome, aren’t they? Happy Father’s Day bonus!

I’m sorry I spent the whole party shouting, “no need to get a father’s day gift for me. I have no kids…that I KNOW of!” Over and over…

I’m sorry I said my dad could beat up your dad. But I really think you should have warned me your mom was a black belt. Not cool, man.

Happy ParoleFather’s Day!

IS DINNER THEATRE LESSER THEATRE? I DON’T THINK SO.

When I was six or seven, my parents took me to my first “big time” theatre experience. It was Chanhassen Dinner Theatre in Chanhassen, MN. The show was the musical “Camelot”. I wore my pale green, three-piece suit (it was the seventies), got to eat prime rib at a table with a candle on it, and drank Shirley Temples.

Then, after we stuffed ourselves, they turned off the lights and put on a show for us. To a kid, it was like being king. “Feed me! Now dance and sing! Chop chop!”

To top it off, at intermission, they brought us MORE FOOD. This time, brownie hot fudge sundaes. If they’d had an Atari 2600 and some Star Wars action figures too, I’d never have left.

The show was excellent. I fell asleep, but that was more a reflection of my age, not the performance. At least once a year after that trip, until I went away to college, the family caught a show together at Chanhassen.

As an adult, Ive only gotten to Chanhassen a couple times, but think about it often.

I never did theater in school, but as an adult, I’ve been on stage a number of times in non-musical plays. In more recent years, with little kids at home, it’s been difficult to justify the four of five night per week rehearsal life of a local theatre actor, so I’ve transitioned into writing plays instead of acting in them. Several have been produced. All of this has given me a different perspective on theatre. I still enjoy the spectacle as I did as a kid, but now I also enjoy watching shows with an eye for the technical aspects.

But once in a while, you just want to enjoy the spectacle. Recently, my wife and I got the chance to return to Chanhassen for the first time in nearly a decade. This time, for the first time, our kids were with us; one 8, the other 4. I knew it would be a nostalgic thrill for me to return, and it was. The old place hasn’t changed. I loved it as soon as we walked in, but wasn’t sure whether the kids would end up enjoying it.

We chose a matinee, because the kids are little and an 8 pm curtain after a big meal, wouldn’t fly. The show was “The Little Mermaid” and it was great. The eight-year-old, who has become a stage veteran as a dancer at the local junior theater was entranced. The four-year-old, a kinetic ball of perpetual motion who normally can’t even sit down long enough to eat a meal, was mesmerized. He sat, mouth agape, through much of the show and applauded louder than anyone. He’s a natural performer around the house and in school. We recently put him in an intro to theater acting class for kids to channel some of that energy, so, who knows? Maybe we’ll see him in a Broadway musical someday. And even if not, the experience may make him appreciate the arts a little more.

Fine arts programs are often the first to get cut in schools when they are struggling with their budgets. Why we let schools struggle with money baffles me in general, but that’s a topic for another blog. But kids get so much out of the arts – acting, singing, dancing ,writing, painting, whatever. Kids learn about teamwork, fostering creativity, focus and pride of accomplishment. Plus, it’s damn fun. Whether it’s Chanhassen or high school theater, expose your kids to this stuff. You’ll thank me for it.

And don’t skip a play just because it’s dinner theatre. A lot of people do, and I don’t know why. Serving a meal before a show has no bearing on the quality of the performance. In my limited theatre acting experience, I’ve done dinner theatre shows a couple times. As an actor, there is a different vibe in the room, and not just because you can smell the entrees. People seem more relaxed, more ready to laugh at the funny bits when they’re funny if you gave them a nice meal beforehand. What’s wrong with that? As a dinner theatre attendee, why wouldn’t I want to be pleasingly full, then see a show without stressing over the commute to the theater in between?

So, in summary, fine arts: good. Dinner theater: good. Chanhassen: good. “The Little Mermaid”: excellent. Now, close this browser window and go order some tickets online.

You’ll thank me for that too.

HAND ME A SHOVEL, I GOTTA REBOOT THE ROUTER

The Law of Entropy says that everything in the universe is in a state of decay. In other words, stuff breaks.

And somebody’s gotta fix it.

Back in the caveman days, if something broke…well, they most likely left it where it was and moved on in pursuit of the next wooly mammoth, leaving behind some artifact for future generations to use in the epic battle over just exactly how old the world is.

In pioneer times, real men chopped down trees and built their own log cabins. If it got drafty, they just whipped up their own pine tar and slathered it on. Good as new. Or something like that. Me, I would have used Legos as I am hopeless with any other building materials. Pretty sure when the apocalypse comes, I’m doomed.

SIDE NOTE: British crazy person James May actually built a house out of Lego for a TV show. A real life, life-sized house where even the furniture was Lego. The toilet too. Peeing in a Lego toilet is every perennially nine-year-old kid’s dream. I. Want. To. Live. There. So. Much. If something broke, I could totally fix it.

Unlike pretty much anything that breaks in the real world. Today, if something in your day to day life breaks, it’s likely to be technology. Every generation is becoming more and more comfortable with tech in their daily lives.

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