williamallenpepper

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Archive for the month “March, 2015”

WHAT I’M THINKING ABOUT THIS WEEK

COLD TWEET FEET

This morning, a little song was running through my head. My own composition. Here, I’ll sing it for you. *Takes out pitch pipe. Blows* Ahem

Kick me in the nuts
Kick me in the nuts
Go ahead. Kick away!
Kick me in the nuts

Its not Grammy-worthy, but in the rush of an early morning work day, it made me laugh. I was going to tweet it, maybe make someone else smile too. But…

I hesitated,. Thumbs poised over the touchpad, I couldn’t pull the Twitter trigger. Was my little ditty..dirty? Well, no, that’s over stating it. But still, it is a little…blue I guess. Was I embarrassed? I’m no prude, and the Internet definitely isn’t, so why not just post the damn thing? I think I will. Right now.

Or maybe tomorrow.

GOOD WRITING: BIGGER ON THE INSIDE

So, I’m editing a book manuscript right now. A couple weeks ago, I was editing a play script. I’m always writing something. Writing a new story, putting words to the page on a new adventure is a thrill. The editing process doesn’t have the excitement of the new, but it does have something just as good, maybe better: creation.

Writing a story is just vomiting words on a page. Editing a story is where the real act of creation happens. It’s where the story gets its depth, it’s meaning, it’s power. Whatever you want to call it. A good story, a polished piece of writing, is more than a collection of words and clever ideas. A good piece of writing is like a TARDIS. It’s bigger on the inside.

And that’s exciting to me.

THE X-FILES IS BACK!

The news that Fox has ordered a limited six-episode series of one of my favorite shows ever fills me with joy and nostalgic glee. I especially like that it’s going to be centered on Mulder and Scully and not some sort of lame hand-off from Duchovny and Anderson to the hot, new X-Files Avengers or whatever. The X-Files movie series never really took off. Perhaps ratings success, like the truth, is still out there.*

*See what I did there?

**Well. Just exactly how much didyou pay to read this?

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MEMORIES OF OUR FATHERS – TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY STYLE

So, the other day, I was getting ready for work at the day job. My five-year-old son, on spring break, had come in earlier and crawled into bed with his mother. I stood at the mirror putting on my tie. In the mirror, I saw the boy stir and sit up, blinking away sleep, then watching me get ready.

Every son has had that experience; watching Dad get ready for work. There’s something mysterious about that, when you’re a kid. You know what Dad’s like at home; how he dresses in his off time, what he likes to do. You know what Dad’s like when he comes to your school for conferences or winter carnival of whatever. But at his work, that’s a vague, alien world Dad goes off to for a good chunk of the day (or night). When you’re a kid, watching Dad put on the uniform – sometimes literally – to go to that unknown frontier, it’s like watching him get ready to beam up to the Enterprise or something. (I almost wrote “It’s almost like watching Buck Rogers get ready to take off for the 25th century. How old am I, exactly?)

A lot of us also have distinct memories of their Dads – and moms – looking certain ways when we were kids. Jolly. Dour. Laughing. Serious. Whatever. And often, especially for us kids of a certain age, we remember them always holding a cigarette and/or a glass of bourbon.

A lot less dads smoke now, or have a glass of whisky attached to their hands. Its unlikely this is how my son will remember me or his friends will remember their dads. But, I noticed something that morning as I dressed. There’s was something else in that reflection…

A tiny little blue light blinking from my shirt pocket. I had stuck my phone there for some reason. Like a lot of people, I carry my cell phone around with me a lot. Not as much as some people, but a lot. The cell phone today is more than a communication tool, it’s an accessory, an expression of who we are the way our dad’s and our grandpa’s brand of cigarette or preferred whisky was. A cellphone in your shirt pocket even kind of looks like a pack of cigarettes.

Is this how our kids will remember us? Mom and Dad always with the phone within reach? And if so, is that good or bad?Maybe they’ll think it’s just weird. Maybe they won’t even notice because they do it too. Maybe they’ll think it’s quaint because by the time they’re adults they’ll have cell phones embedded in their elbows or noses or whatever. (I could have predicted “implanted in their brains”, but, seriously, any two-bit blogger could predict that.)

I don’t really know what the import of all this is. There’s probably no shame in being remembered for always having a phone in hand. If nothing else, it’ll cloud the memory of all those Doctor Who shirts I wear.

So that’s something.

I’M SORRY -ST. PADDY’S DAY EDITION 2015

Once again, the time ‘o the wearin’ o’ the green jock strap is upon us. (You celebrate how you want. I’ll celebrate how I want.) it’s also the time o’ putting “o'” in front of everything, burnishing your Irish credentials even as you royally piss off your computer auto correct.

Also, given that the holiday has “St.” In its name, this is clearly a good time to revel in your guilt and moral failings. You can cleanse your pallet of the corned beef and cabbage of regret; kick the leprechaun in the ass of bad feeling and steal it’s pot of gold stars for good choices.

Or you could save time and watch your DVD of “Waking Ned Devine”.

I’ve had six sugary Shamrock shakes and a bottle of Jameson’s today, so this should go quick, but most likely not painless. Sorry about that.

I’m sorry about making Guiness cupcakes. I thought your crowd would like them. What do kindergarteners know anyway?

I’m sorry I ruined your garden last summer. I know you still hold a grudge about it. I just figured if corn grew well, why not corned beef? Now what are we going to eat for St. Patrick’s Day?

I’m sorry leprechauns don’t come in other sizes.

I’m sorry that on our trip to Ireland, I asked everyone to play the bagpipes. I totally get now that’s a Norwegian thing.

I’m sorry booby traps are illegal. Regardless, NOBODY is gonna mess with my pot o’ gold. My phalanx of snakes ousted by St. Patrick will have to do.

I’m sorry there was no pot of gold at the end of your rainbow. You’ll just have to get by with that basket full of Apple watches.

I’m sorry Bailey’s Irish cream stopped making mint. Thank goodness for Guinness Blonde though.

I’m sorry the official color of the holiday is green. My green t-shirt has a hole in it. I have an awesome orange shirt though. I’ll make some calls, get this changed.

I’m sorry the restraining order the city got on me after last year’s St. Patrick’s Day hasn’t expired yet. Who will flash the crowd for gold-foiled chocolate coins now?

I’m sorry St. Patrick’s Day lasts just one day. Hey! In Ireland, it’s like a 365 day holiday, right?

If only…

TO POD OR NOT TO POD

Here at Blog Central, we’re like Heinz. We do one thing and do it better than anyone: make ketchup.

Word ketchup, that is.

But lately, we’ve been feeling a little…restless. Ketchup is great. Goes with burgers, fries, and, if you’re my kid, Mac & cheese. (He also likes AMERICAN cheese and jelly sandwiches, but that’s a post for another time.) Likewise, the blog is great and can be just about anything wordy you want it to be,

But sometimes, you just get tired of ketchup. Sometimes, I just want, I dunno, some pickle relish.

That’s a lie. Pickle relish sucks.

But a little variety is nice. Maybe a spicy salsa. Or some honey mustard. Maybe a good balsamic something or other.

So what’s a word-based alternative condiment to ketchup-blogging?

Podcasting.

It’s like blogging, only noisier. I listen to a lot of different ones. Some are informative – current events or science stuff. Others are about books or writing. Sometimes, I listen to pop culture casts about Doctor Who or X-Files, or maybe something from Nerdist. I enjoy the variety of mostly free – or pay what you want – entertainment.

I’d never really considered hosting a podcast of my own until recently when a couple viable ideas came to mind unexpectedly. I’m still not sure I want to do it, for a variety of reasons. Among them:

TIME COMMITMENT: I can write a blog post in an evening and upload it to all you folks to lap up like butter. Or something. But a podcast is a little more complicated. It could take a whole evening just to record it – sync up with guests maybe, technology issues, maybe having to re-record if the sound isn’t right. Then you need more time to edit the podcast, mix the sound just right, add any audio bits to the recording you need. Then distribute it. Definitely more complicated than tapping out 600 words and sending it through WordPress.

EXPENSE: lol that stuff I just said? It costs money. Typing a WordPress blog is free. But a podcast requires microphones and headphones. There might be a cost for editing software. There could be fees for cloud storage or uploading. Some blogs make money from ads or Patreon support or whatever. Not being sure yet what kind of pod I would cast, I don’t know if there’s any likelihood for revenue. I wouldn’t go into it with the expectation of making money, so the cost is an especially important consideration.

THE WEIRDNESS FACTOR: there’s one more consideration when deciding to podcast that you don’t have when blogging. Other people can actually up hear your voice. Worse, you can hear yourself. People always think they sound funny on audio recordings, I suppose because, weirdly, no one really knowswhat they sound like. Not exactly. Yet, when you podcast, you trust that you sound reasonably not-creepy.

So, I don’t know. The lure of a new creative outlet is hard to resist. But is this particular one worth the effort? Maybe. If the idea is good enough…

If any podcasters out there have some guidance, let me know.

So we’ll see. Watch this space. And the, uh, airwaves. Or Internet waves.

I’ve got lots to learn.

TIME: CRUNCHY AND OTHERWISE

Remember “Seinfeld”?

Yes you do. Mr. Pretending You Don’t Watch TV. Classic ’90’s sitcom. The show famously about nothing. “No hugging. No learning.” You loved it. We all did.

Well, I did learn one thing from “Seinfeld”. How to be master of your domain.

Whoops. Okay. Two things.

The other thing I learned is about the “feel” of time. There’s an episode where Newman and Kramer are talking about which days of the week they “feel”. One of them, Newman maybe, thinks Mondays “have a feel”. And “Fridays” have a feel. Kramer, on the other hand, feels Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Me, I feel Sundays and Thursdays. Sundays…well, Sundays suck. Sunday’s the day you have to come home from whatever weekend adventure you were having and get ready for the work week. Thursdays have the crunch of anticipation of another weekend to come. (In years past, it was also the good TV night and/or go to happy hour night).

But everyone knows days have a feel. Monday is the poster child for days with a feel. The “Garfield” comic strip has been running for thirty-odd years on lasagna and days with a feel. For me, though, time feels are more…localized than days of the week.

I don’t like to eat breakfast food at times other than breakfast. Feels weird.

Last Sunday was Oscar day. I had really wanted to see “Birdman” before the show, but hadn’t gotten around to it. However, I’d heard so many interviews and read so much good press that, while out shopping that afternoon, I bought the Blu-ray. I don’t remember the last time I bought a movie I hadn’t already seen. But I was so confident this one would be in my wheelhouse, I was positive I would love it and have to own it once I saw it, so I just skipped the “test view” part. I couldn’t wait to possess this awesome movie.

At least, I assume it’s awesome. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences spoiled it for me by giving “Birdman” the Oscar for best picture, among others, but I can’t confirm their wisdom – or lack thereof – because I haven’t yet watched the movie.

Well, I should say, as I write this, I haven’t watched it. By the time you read it, I probably will have. I haven’t watched it yet because it has been the right time.

Sunday afternoon, I could have come home, dodged the kids and secreted myself in a sunlit room for a couple hours to cram in the view before the awards show started, but that felt rushed and uncomfortable. Plus, I feel weird watching movies in the daylight. I’m okay with going to a theater when it’s light out as long as its dark when I leave. Movies are a nighttime activity.

So Sunday afternoon was out. Sunday night was taken up with the Oscars. Weekdays -even if I wanted to watch during the day – are out because of work. And week nights are complicated. I can watch movies on weeknights, but I prefer not to. Movies feel like a relaxing, I don’t have to work tomorrow, I can stay up later if I want, type of activity. It’s hard to relax weeknights even for movies after a long day of work and kids homework and bedtime and whatnot.

Most likely, then, I waited out the week and watched “Birdman” on Friday or Saturday night. Watched it with a relaxed mind, confident that the universe feels as it should.

So why does time “feel” certain ways?  It moves fast. It moves slow. It sits on your chest reeking of dread of things to come. Days fly by when you’re having fun and mock you when times are bad. Time isn’t a thing you can touch or see. It’s a unit of measurement. What gives time such power?

And most importantly, is “Grand Budapest Hotel” on sale?

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