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Archive for the month “November, 2014”

MR. PEABODY: ABSENTEE TIME LORD?

When I was a kid, I was a little young for the original run of “Rocky and Bullwinkle”, but I really liked the reruns. One of my favorite features was the segment “Mr. Peabody and Sherman.” Now, many years later, I still hear Mr. Peabody saying in his most contemptuous voice, “Quiet, you.” He whisked around through time in the Way Back machine with his young friend Sherman maki g pithy remarks and giving Shedman lessons about history.

As I got older, I discovered Doctor Who. about a renegade time lord who was always the smartest person in the room who flies around in time and space in his TARDIS.

Recently, I watched the 2014 film “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” with the kids. It’s a lot of fun, keeping the spirit of the original characters in a contemporary setting. As I was watching this, I suddenly realized:

THE DOCTOR. MR. PEABODY.

THE SAME DUDE.

Thesis: Mr. Peabody is just be another incarnation of the Doctor.

This could be controversial among fans, I know. Doctor Who fandom can’t agree on the potential of a future Doctor being a woman. The idea that the Doctor could be a canine could well destroy the Internet.

Still, the signs are all there. The Doctor has no name other than that title. Mr. Peabody is just “Mr, Peabody”. Even his kid Sherman calls him that. Peabody wears glasses. The tenth Doctor wore glasses. Peabody thinks bow ties are cool, the eleventh Doctor thought bow ties were cool.

And there’s more. Peabody finds other people frustrating, frequently saying “Quiet, you.” The 12th Doctor, frankly, doesn’t really like anyone, often telling people to “shut up shut up shuttity-up-up-up.”

Both adventurers have mad skills. Peabody is a great chef and a master of industry and science. The Doctor juggles, dances, is an absentee president of Gallifrey.

Both characters have hearts (in the Doctor’s case, TWO of them) that would fill a TARDIS, but both are super smart and have trouble relating to us ordinary folk. The 12th Doctor, in particular is “not the hugging type” and has little regard for individual people, even while struggling to save the species as a whole. Peabody loves his boy Sherman, but can only muster the occasional “I have great regard for you.”

The Doctor and Peabody both flit about time in impossible machines, and are a first name basis with historical figures. Both know Davinci. Peabody and Ghandi are pals. The Doctor knows Shakespeare and a Queens Victoria and Elizabeth.

Both have companions who stir up trouble. In the movie, Penny tries to marry King Tut. Sherman wrecks Davinci’s airplane prototype. Clara betrays the 12th Doctor out of desperation, to which he replies, “do you really believe I think so little of you that betraying me could make a difference?” Peabody responds to Sherman’s betrayal by saying he loves him and setting things right.

For both characters, setting things right usually involves some scientific-sounding techno babble. For Peabody, somehow traveling to the future repairs a rift in the past. For the Doctor,saving worlds has involved moving planets, reversing polarities, sending planets into pocket universes and on and on…

A man. A dog. Is the universe big enough for the two of them? Or the ONE of them?

The prosecution (or the valyard, if you like) rests.

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I’M SORRY – THANKSGIVING EDITION

The way the country is collectively loosening its belt, rolling off the couch and emitting farts to wake the founding fathers tells me that American thanksgiving has come.

We’ve stuffed ourselves silly, drank everything within reach and endured our relatives while jockeying to not be stuck at the “kids’ table” AGAIN this year.

Since TV this week is lame and your football team is already out of it, it’s a good time to quietly reflect and make amends for all those things you’ve royally screwed up.

Gobble gobble!

I’m sorry I misunderstood your invitation. When you said, “We’re having a traditional turkey dinner. There’ll be no dressing,” I just interpreted it differently than you. That’s no crime, even if what I then did to the gravy is. It needed to be stirred. Sue me.

I’m sorry I put an outboard motor on the gravy boat. But, man, did you see that baby MOVE!

I’m sorry chocolate turkey isn’t a thing.

I’m sorry the “corn” in cornucopia has nothing to do with bunions. No judging, you.

I’m sorry about what I said to Uncle Milt. But, hey, if your dead uncle rose out of the Jell-O mould, you’d drop a few f-bombs too.

I’m sorry centerpieces are so flammable.

I’m sorry the grandmothers don’t get along. I’m even more sorry we didn’t install that metal detector when we had the chance.

I’m sorry that the pilgrims invented turkey instead of red velvet cake, ’cause I could eat the hell out of some red velvet cake.

I’m sorry about the carpet stains. On the other hand, it was cool how far that aerosol whipped topping went, wasn’t it?

I’m sorry I accused your brother of cheating at cards. But I’m not sorry I stole his watch.

I’m sorry Thanksgiving is a federal holiday every year while Carpet Fiber Day goes tragically unnoticed.

I’m sorry I put up signs advertising a “Black Friday” sale in your tool shed. It was awfully nice of you to give pie to those people camped out in the rose bushes though.

I’m sorry sweet potatoes are a thing.

I’m sorry I stood up and screamed, “MORE, bitches!” at your kid’s school Thanksgiving pageant. I thought passing the bottle first would buy me some good will, but nooooo.

I’m sorry “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” is the best, but also the only, Thanksgiving movie.

I’m sorry that Wal-Mart, so desperate to extend Black Friday into Thanksgiving, annexed your gazebo to sell economy-sized rolls of toilet paper.

Stick  a fork in the bird. This column’s done.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PUT STEVE CARELL IN A VAN

People love to take shots at Hollywood. “There are no good ideas,” they say. “The only way they can make money is to put a muscle dude in tights and film him beating up a green screen,” they say. Well, the knocks might be well-earned. If Hollywood drags poor Batman out one more time, he’ll be suing Gotham for negligence when his walker skids on some wet pavement and he busts a hip.

But the dirtiest of the dirty little secrets about Hollywood mojo has yet to come out. And it has nothing to do with Jennifer Lawrence naked. How does Hollywood make money? Hint: it’s not new ideas and bold innovation.

Here it is…

You ready?

No, you’re not. Just take a deep breath…

Okay, then. Here’s how Hollywood rakes in the cash.

By putting Steve Carell in a van and having him drive around.

I don’t mean like in real life. I have no idea what Steve Carell drives. It might be a van. Or maybe it’s a Prius. Or a horse-drawn chariot or some sort of sled powered by alien slug creature pedal power as in the little watched Hanna-Barbera cartoon “The Flintstones Eat Cave Mushrooms and Hallucinate About Space.” Real life Steve can drive whatever he wants.

But movie Steve Carell, that dude needs to ride in a van. Whatever else is going on in a film, putting Steve Carell in a van in a movie works really well. Little Miss Sunshine – about a family road trip in a Volkswagen van – came out in 2006, cost $8 million to make and grossed over $100 million.

Carell’s new movie is Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day. It’s been out for a month as of this writing, cost $28 million to make and has so far grossed $78 million. No road trip in this one, but lots of driving around in a minivan while family hijinks ensue.

The similarities between these films don’t end there… (Since Alexander is relatively new, I’ll try not to be hugely spoilery about it. Still, mind your step…)

1. In Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day (Phew. Let’s just call it ALEXANDER), there is a defined “destination”: Mom, Dad, brother, sister, and Alexander all have stuff that’s got to get done and places everyone needs to be before Alexander’s birthday party. In Little Miss Sunshine (LMS), the family has to get from Albuquerque to Redondo Beach, CA by 3:00 Sunday so Olive can dance in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant.

2. In ALEXANDER the minivan…well, it sustains some suburban battle scars. In LMS, the van loses its clutch, horn and side door.

3. In ALEXANDER, Carell’s character is, literally, a rocket scientist. But now he’s unemployed, trying to stay upbeat for his family. In LMS, Carell is the “#1 Proust scholar in the country”‘ but now he’s unemployed…and suicidal, but he does say lots of inspiring and funny things.

4. In ALEXANDER, the family watches in horror from the audience as one of their own makes a fool of themselves on stage. In LMS, The family watches in horror from the audience as Olive busts a move to “Super Freak” on stage.

5. ALEXANDER features an inappropriate dance routine by a trio of male strippers – The Thunder Down Under. LMS? See Superfreak.

6. In ALEXANDER, the Mom blows a big assignment at work. Dad flubs a big job interview. In LMS, Richard Hoover loses a book deal for his 9 step motivational program.

7. In ALEXANDER, the sister gets loopy on cough syrup. In LMS, Grandpa snorts heroin.

8. In ALEXANDER, Carell is beaten by a kangaroo, nearly eaten by a crocodile, and set on fire. In LMS, he’s suicidal.

9. In ALEXANDER, the brother is primed to drive his date – the “hottest girl in school” – to prom  as the high point of his life, but loses the tux and flunks his driving test. In LMS, the brother, Dwayne, has one goal in life – to fly jets – only to discover he’s color blind, meaning he can’t fly.

10. In ALEXANDER, the family comes together in the end and realize that’s all that matters. In LMS, well you know…

Eerie, huh? They’re kind of the same movie. Throw in Iron Man and you’d have quintessential Hollywood as we know it.

Drive on, Steve Carell, you magnificent bastard. Drive on.

EGGS TO NOG, BOOKS TO FLOG

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TRICK OR TREAT: LOW TECH CHILDHOOD ON LIFE SUPPORT

This isn’t one of thosepost.

This isn’t one of those posts bemoaning how much crappier childhood is today than when I was a kid. Kids today certainly live differently than I did. But childhood isn’t necessarily better or worse. Sure, there’s probably more worrying about what they eat, where they play and who they play with. But I don’t think that’s necessarily because they’re less safe; we’re just more aware of the dangers in the world. Obesity, guns and mental health, among other things, are not to be ignored or laughed off or minimized in ways they maybe were when I was a kid.

The biggest, pervasive, consistent evolution of modern childhood is certainly technology. Cell phones, tablets, social media; all stuff I didn’t deal with as a kid. I was in fifth grade before my school had a computer that kids could use. Students had to sell stained glass sun catchers door to door to raise money to buy an Apple IIe – one computer, singular – to be placed in the library for kids to use. (We did so well, we were actually able to buy two.) was in middle school before we had any sort of computer at home, never had a cell phone until I was a twenty-something professional and was in my thirties before I got a social media account.

But for kids, technology is intertwined completely with the fabric of daily life. I get it. I mostly support it. Kids should still do math in their heads and on paper. A real tree is preferable to a virtual one. But, basically, technology is good.

Still, sometimes tech seems SO ubiquitous, one sort of longs for simpler times. One area that, thankfully,remains low tech just happened last week.

Trick or treat.

Trick-or- treat hasn’t changed much in forever. Put on a costume. Grab a bag. Knock on door. Get candy. It’s been done that way forever. We maybe scrutinize the candy more now – for safety and food allergies. And maybe we don’t let our kids roam unsupervised so much, but, the basic process is the same.

I like that

There were some subtle changes not related to tech. Costumes today tend to be store bough licensed characters, rather than homemade. I did see one kid who earns mad props (I’m hip with the lingo, yo). The kid was dressed as a firefighter, sitting in a wheelchair and his parents had built a fire engine out of cardboard around the chair. It looked awesome.

Another thing was, I heard very few kids actually say their line. All we aske kids to do is yell “trick or treat”. They do that and we give them food. It’s not much to ask. Except not many were doing it. They walk up,grab the candy and off they go. Barely even a thank you. And the candy givers weren’t calling them on it, worried about getting egged? Come on, hold those goblins and superheroes accountable. Make them tell a joke or something.

So, even though the low reach purity of tricks or treats remains intact, the feeling anti- social tendencies of modern life continue their crawl over the modern kid.

But that’s a topic for another time.

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