And That’s a Wrap: 2013

Posted on January 14, 2014


At the end of 2011 I posted a summary of my year: And That’s a Wrap

I meant to do the same at the end of 2012 but I got distracted watching Game of Thrones and forgot to do anything in 2012.


In January I started writing the back page Slice of Life humor column for Time Out Shanghai magazine. It’s currently only available in the printed version, so since you have no way of judging for yourself, let me just say it’s really, really good and very, very popular.

My twelve-year-old son Optimist Prime’s quote of the year, referencing the underdog Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team making the playoffs after twenty years without a winning record: “Not rooting for the Pirates is like not rooting for a half-blind orphan missing an arm competing in a horse race on a cat to save his parents’ farm.”

I pitched Time Out the idea for a new column called Inside Job in which I shadow a worker for a day as he teaches me his job. Last year I worked as a brewmaster, maid, tattoo artist, assembly line worker, street barber, subway driver, kung fu noodle spinner, and leg waxer. All my Inside Job columns can be found here: Inside Job

My most recent job as a lion dancer in a Chinese dance troupe can be found by clicking the link below:

Paul Johnson Lion Dancer

My nine-year-old son The Fonz’s quote of the year: “I think there are some people who deserve to die. Like if Optimist Prime were Hitler he would deserve to die.”
OP: “Why did you have to say my name? Why not just say Hitler?”

I met childhood hero Joe Montana, interviewed him as a media representative of Time Out, and tagged along as he went for a beer at the very brewery where I had worked as a brewmaster for my Inside Job column, meaning I knew everybody there and felt like a pretty big man in front of Joe Montana.

Joe Montana and His Best Friend Paul Johnson

The following weekend I thought I’d met Sting…

Paul Johnson and Not Sting

…but after sobering up and examining this picture I had my doubts. If this guy knew he wasn’t Sting, why did he let me buy him drinks all night?

If you’d like regular updates of me posing with celebrity lookalikes you can follow me on Instagram: Or don’t. Whatever. I don’t care. Please follow me.

I wrote a one-man play satirizing the self-help industry and it was accepted into the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The promo video I directed can be found here: KEN PEPPER–Motivational Speaker: WAKE UP and AWAKEN the EMPOWERING POWER of BELIEVITUDE!

I decided to delay going to Edinburgh and spent the summer building a recording studio with some friends instead.


Not to be outdone, my sons built an epic blanket fort:

Blanket Fort

My wife and I are both fairly easy going and only criticize each other about once a decade. It took me thirteen years but I finally confronted my wife about how whenever I sing songs around the house she joins in but hijacks them, singing at a different tempo and in a different key until I finally give up. She took my criticism well and promised she’d stop, which she’s managed to do almost half of the time.

On Sunday mornings The Fonz and I often play chess at a local cafe. Not once did I ever go easy on him and he finally beat me last summer.

Sore Winner

Perhaps you’ve heard rumors of The Fonz being a sore loser, but I assure you he’s an even sorer winner.

I grew an awesome beard:

Awesome Beard

I competed in four fantasy football leagues, won one, came in second in three, and bored everybody I mentioned it to.

Sadly, our cat Megatron left us at the relatively young age of eight. She’s being startled by the angels now.


My wife asked me what I’d like my tombstone to say. I don’t know why she’s so interested in my funeral arrangements all of a sudden, but I told her I wanted my tombstone to read: “LOOK BEHIND YOU!”

I retired the cheap ukulele I play at night while drinking my bourbon sours. It served me well but the amount of bourbon sour I spilled inside the sound hole eventually took its toll.


Drunken pictures of me with the new ukulele coming in 2014.

Posted in: Columns