Hidden Kingdom (Chapter 2-adding page 9)

To see the complete Chapter 1, use the following link;https://catchafallingstarbook.net/2018/11/24/hidden-kingdom-chapter-1-complete/

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Filed under artwork, comic strips, fairies, Hidden Kingdom, humor, Paffooney, pen and ink

An Unexpected Gift 

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This post is a movie review for Thor : Ragnarok , though I don’t really plan on talking about the movie very much.   It was an excellent comic book movie in the same tongue-in-cheek comedy tradition as Guardians of the Galaxy.   It made me laugh and made me cheer.   It was the best of that kind of movie.  But it wasn’t the most important thing that happened that night.

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You see, I spent the weekend in the hospital thinking I had suffered a heart attack during the Thanksgiving holiday. I thought I was facing surgery at the very least.   I knew I might have had an appointment to play chess with the Grim Reaper.   It is a lot to worry about and drain all the fun out of life.

Well, one of the things that happened that day, Tuesday, my first full day out of the hospital and, hopefully, out of the woods over heart attacks, was that I received my new replacement bank card because my old one had a worn out, malfunctioning chip in it.  So, I took my three kids to the movie at the cheapest place we could find.  I tried to run my bank card for the payment, and it was summarily declined.  I had activated it previously during the day, and there was plenty of money in the account compared to the price, but it just wouldn’t take.  So I had to call Wells Fargo to find out whatever the new reason was for them to hate me.  It turned out that it had already been activated, but a glitch had caused it to decline the charge.  While I was talking to the girl from the Wells Fargo help desk, the lady who had gotten her and her husband’s tickets right before us put four tickets to the movie in my hand.

The middle-aged black couple had lingered by the ticket stand before going in to their movie just long enough to see a sad-looking old man with raggedy author’s beard and long Gandalf hair get turned down by the cheap-cinema ticket-taking teenager because the old coot’s one and only bank card was declined. They were moved to take matters into their own hands and paid for our tickets themselves.

That, you see, was the gift from my title.  Not so much that we got our movie tickets for free, but that the world still works that way.  There are still good people with empathetic and golden hearts willing to step in and do things to make the world a little bit better place.  The gift they gave me was the reassurance that, as bad and black as the world full of fascists that we have come to live in has become, it still has goodness and fellow feeling in it. People are still moved to pay things forward and make good on the promise to “love one another”.  I did not have a chance to thank them properly.  I was on the phone with Wells Fargo girl when it happened.  The only thing that couple got out of their good deed was thank-yous from my children and the knowledge that they had done something wonderful.  I plan to pay it forward as soon as I have the opportunity.  Not out of guilt or obligation, but because I need to be able to feel that feeling too at some point.

I do have one further gift to offer the world.

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After we got home from the movie, I opened an email that contained the cover proof for my novel, Magical Miss Morgan.  Soon I will have that in print also if I can keep Page Publishing from messing it up at the last moments before printing.  It is a novel about what a good teacher is and does.  It is the second best thing I have ever written.

Sometimes the gifts that you most desperately need come in unexpected fashion.

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Filed under commentary, compassion, happiness, healing, humor, illness, movie review, NOVEL WRITING, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Why Real Writers Go Mad

Yes, you heard right. (Well, you did if you read the title out loud.) Real writers are subject to madness. I decided this because I found the pattern in real writing that I actually value as good writing.

Case in Point; Ernest Hemingway

The first book of Hemingway that I read in high school was For Whom the Bell Tolls. It is a book about World War One, being an ambulance driver on the battle field, the transformations that combat experiences have on the soul, and trying to deal with the love of a woman, unsuccessfully, while the soul-sucking of recovery from battle is still taking place in your head. The story has a first-person narrator. It is told in a journalistic style that only presents the facts and doesn’t do any of the thinking and feeling for you. It makes the meaning of the story all happen in the reader’s head, as if the writer is not telling you what to think. But he actually is. And doing it masterfully. Of course, it captured me horribly because at the time I read it, the Viet Nam War was winding down, I had a draft number after turning 18 in 1974, and the Khmer Rouge attacked and took control of the SS Mayaguez in May of 1975, threatening to reignite the war and expand it into Cambodia. A wonderful book to read when you are faced with grim reality and the unfolding path to madness before you.

I also read The Sun Also Rises and The Old Man and the Sea while in college as an English Major. I defy you to read either of those books and not see the madness gnawing at the writer.

Ernest Hemingway went mad from the post traumatic struggles he underwent as a consequence of WWI. His life ended when he put a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Deep depression is a form of madness.

Case in Point; Edgar Allen Poe

Of course, I chose the portraits of these authors on the basis of which ones are the most haunting I could find. Poe’s stare captured here reveals a pair of eyes that have seen the dark depths of his own soul, a horror you can’t compare to anyone else’s except through the words of a writer, because you can’t see into someone else’s soul in any other way. Your eyes weren’t built to do that.

And we all know the kind of stories and poems he wrote. My first encounter with Poe’s writing was either The Black Cat, The Tell-Tale Heart, or the poem, “The Bells“, all of which are deeply disturbing, and all of which I read in the Eighth Grade in Mrs. Erdman’s Class.

Poe became mad due to life-long grinding poverty brought about by foster parents who loved him and had money enough, but were too firmly devoted to the idea that helping someone out financially is a weakness not to be contemplated. His young wife died an early death from lack of funds for things like heat in the winter and food on a daily basis.

We don’t fully know why the madness caused his mysterious death. He may have had rabies when he died. Or it may have been a toxic reaction to large quantities of alcohol. Or he may have died from brain injuries due to an unexplained kidnapping and beating. But what we do know is that he loved certain people passionately and hated certain people passionately through his literary criticism of their writing. In fact, one of the authors he hated may have killed him as a murderous act of revenge.

Case in Point; Charles Dickens

When one thinks of Charles Dickens as a writer, madness is rarely the thing that comes first to mind. He wrote socially-observant comedies that emphasized engaging characters and detailed understandings of the settings and the times. There are a large number of clowns and comic villains in his stories. And his works seem a bit overbalanced against the darkness of the soul.

And yet he has his dark moments. I first read Dickens in Seventh Grade through The Christmas Carol. But Marley’s ghost and his ilk, especially the spectral Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come chilled me to the bone. I wept at the death of Tiny Tim even though it meant the other boys in my class could see me crying and would make me pay a price outside of the classroom.

On my own I went on to read more Dickens, including The Old Curiosity Shop in high school, Nicholas Nickleby, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield and Great Expectations in college. I further read Oliver Twist while teaching Eighth Grade English. I also read my first author-biography of Charles Dickens, shortly after reading The Old Curiosity Shop.

I soon realized how much of his stories were autobiographical. Wilkins Micawber is a portrait of his own father and his time in the poorhouse. Wackford Squeers and other unflattering depictions of education reflected his own time in British boys’ schools where the odds of being molested by upper classmen were high. And the fact that a beloved young female relative died in his arms when he was barely out of boyhood probably caused the infamous death of the character Little Nell in the final installment of The Old Curiosity Shop.

There is madness in Dickens too. I mean, how can your writing reach the very heights of the Himalayas if it has never experienced the deepest depths of the ocean?

Case in Point; J.D. Salinger

Yes, I read The Catcher in the Rye in high school. It was a right of passage in 1974. It was one of the three books that set me on my lifelong quest to find the best book ever written. (The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy and the Little Prince by Saint-Exupéry are the other two.) It is a book that first captured me by the feelings in the brain with the central image alluded to in the title. Holden Caufield (Salinger later confessed that this narrator was really him) dreamed that he was in a field a rye where children are playing and romping with abandon. Behind Holden is a bottomless cliff. As children occasionally run towards him and the cliff behind him, heedless and not seeing the danger, he decides he must catch them and turn them back the other way. And this is what the book is, Holden’s adventures for the first time in the adult world, experiencing the possible dangers, and then turning the readers around, back into the field of rye.

I of course read Franny and Zooey and Raise High the Roof-Beam, Carpenters afterwards in college. Buddy Glass, who narrates the story of brother Seymour’s suicide, is also an admitted character-identity for Salinger himself.

Has Salinger, too, gone mad? You can ask that about a man who suddenly stopped writing at the height of his success, and then ran away to a small shed in the woods where he wrote mash notes to teenage girls for twenty years?

Final Case in Point; Mickey

And why would I ever think Mickey is mad?

Well… this list is long.

Mickey was sexually assaulted by an older boy at ten. You can see the effects of that in all of his writings, including this one.

He’s fool enough to think he might be a real writer.

When he is in his cartoonist’s head, he portrays himself as a purple mouse. When he’s in his teacher head, he’s Reluctant Rabbit.

He thinks he can recognize great writing when he reads it.

He understands the books of H.P. Lovecraft far too well.

And he seems to recognize that same madness that can be found in Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, JD Salinger, Mark Twain, Stephen King, Terry Pratchett, and too many more that could also be named… in himself.

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Filed under artists I admire, autobiography, book review, characters, foolishness, humor, writing

The Long Pandemic Winter

I admit the winter storm in Texas was almost too much for me even though we didn’t lose power for a significant amount of time and the plumbing problems we had after the freezing weather left were only the ones we had before the storm began. But this has been a slow-building punishment that effectively grinds the soul to grainy powder.

I admit that I have been thinking about death too much for an entire year. Flu season has never come and gone before without me getting the flu at least once. I have had some three-infection flu seasons in the past. Of course, those were all during my time as a working school teacher. Still, I fully expected to catch COVID and die during this pandemic. And I still haven’t been vaccinated and still can’t say I have survived it yet. But it came to our house when my son got sick with it from work. And I got by without getting infected.

I have not been able to do any substitute teaching or Uber driving, so there has been no extra money coming in because of the pandemic. And expenses have, of course, only increased. I still don’t know how much I will have to pay for the electric bill caused by the winter storm. I was smart enough to lock in the rate with a contract back in December, so I shouldn’t get any $16,000 electric bill. But it easily could cost me more than $500 because the space heaters we were using in most of the house were running and gobbling energy 100% of the time during the entire week. And taxes have been punishing me since the 2017 tax bill since, while most of you got $40 or so back from the government, pensioners are paying an increased amount that is going up every year and the Texas Teacher Retirement System tells me they can’t decipher the tax tables to adjust the withholding amount every year. So, I guessed wrong again this year and may end up paying more than $1000 for that.

So, this winter, this severe-depression season, is weighing on my soul heavily. The four of us in the house are living separate lives in our prison-cell rooms. We are not being very nice to each other. It has grown rather dark in our family where religious differences and money-handling differences were a growing problem even before the tidal waves of disease washed over our world. I feel like my family is disintegrating. As is my mental health.

The only thing I seem to have going for me now are the multitude of coping skills I learned over the last decade as the depression monsters set up house-keeping in our collective attic. I will celebrate where I can. I will draw pictures when arthritis lets me. And I will stop feeling angry or guilty when others take out their frustrations on me.

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Random Art, the Art of Picking at Random

Angry Duck Eyes –

Anatidaephobia (pronounced anna-tidy-phobia) is a pervasive and irrational fear that you are being watched by a duck. A person with this rare phobia fears that somehow, somewhere a duck is watching their every move.

I know, that’s pretty random, right?

But that’s how this Art Day post works. I had no idea what the first picture would be until I searched for it. This post began not with an idea, but a title; Random Art, the Art of Picking at Random.

Most of my art posts are exactly that. Pictures picked at random simply by going back through my media gallery and picking them. I usually pick up a theme along the way, sensing how the pictures are connected and deciding what that reveals about the artist and how that should be put into words.

I am aware that by relying on my library of already-used images, I am bound to be putting up something that you may have seen before. But I do have a large supply of already-downloaded pictures, and I find that I deeply love seeing some of these over and over again. However, they are all original artworks done by me. (Yes, I know I didn’t make any of the Pez dispensers or anything in the above photo. But I made the arrangement and took the photo. That makes it as much my art as Campbell Soup cans can be Andy Warhol’s work.) And I have seen them far more often than you have, and I haven’t tired of them.

Many of these pictures are actually self portraits. And that’s because an artist can only come up with whatever is actually inside him at the time.

I am not myself in this picture, but it is never-the-less very much about me and who I am inside.

You might be able to spot the connections between this picture and the last one if you are observant of small details.

Boz, the Bard, Diz, and Poe

This picture seems awfully random until you start to see them as Mr. Dickens, Mr. Shakespeare, Mr. Disney, and Mr. Poe.

So, there it is, Random Art for Saturday Art Day. Picked totally at random. And yet, at the end it seems somehow organized. That is a sort of small miracle, and probably proof that God exists… at least in some random way.

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Polly Ticks!!!

Yes, I am really, really tired of politics. The crappiest of crappy people always seem to win. And everything I learn about them in the news makes me more and more disgusted with them. They don’t tell the truth. But I can’t call them liars. I tell lies all the time because I write fiction. My lies are wrapped in creative ideas, perceived underlying truths, and jokes. (Okay, maybe not always good jokes, but I am not guilty of machinational prevarications like they are.) They use propaganda tactics to twist and tear people’s understanding of what is real and what is important. They are actively seeking to take power in order to enrich themselves and let us bear the consequences. They are cutting out and going to Cancun with their daughters and rich neighbors while the rest of Texans are freezing to death and going without electricity and water.

And now that the orange one is no longer Prexidense, I was looking forward to never having to say his name in this blog again.

But even though the monster himself is now exiled to Mar-a-Lago Goolf Courses, we still have to deal with the nuclear fallout from his four-year rampage, and all the other monsters the radioactive ideas have mutated 70-some million Americans into.

You see, the real problem is what the radioactivity has morphed the American experience into. Since the Prexidensity of Ronald Reagan, the shift has been from doing what is right for the nation as a whole into doing what most benefits the privileged and wealthy elite. This they do by convincing the unthinking that they need to fear the “other,” whether that be black people, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, Muslims, Jews, or retired school teachers… you know, all them communist badguys. And they dangle policies in front of stupid people’s eyes that say, “Through trickle-down economics you can one day be rich like us and all the people that we hate will be punished and America will be Great Again” And all of those run-on, mangled incentives are prevarications. Snake oil. A con game that leaves the listener broke and exploited.

And in a mean-spirited way, they try to deny us anything that will help everybody, to the point that we will no longer have any air to breathe and the planet will boil itself to death.

Is there a way out? Is there a chance that it will get better now that the orange one is, at least temporarily gone from the main stage? Probably not. But the dance of the rich folks on the radical right (The horse’s rear end in that last cartoon) will stop when they reach the point where they are forced to eat their own feet because all the people that work for them on less than a living wage will have starved to death.

But not everything in politics is bad all the time. Sometimes our better angels do make a difference. And there is hope. At least until the Republicans manage to vote it all down again… with electoral-type votes where somehow you don’t have to have more votes to win.

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Filed under angry rant, cartoons, humor, politics

Being Kind to Myself

Paying for reviews is not going well for me. I go to a lot of effort to read and review the works of others. Pubby gives you four days. Four days to read a book that may be as much as 75,000 words. You also find some books to be a mind-numbing slog because many writers are simply not as good as they think they are. But there are ways to cut to the chase and evaluate a book quickly and accurately. It definitely helps if the author follows a recognizable genre pattern, but most of the reviewers on Pubby have never heard of a picaresque novel, and have poor conceptions of what a hero’s journey is, or misunderstand the basic structures in a coming-of-age story. So, you make the review pointed, simple, and give the highest rating you can justify.

But the work I put into the process is not reflected in the reviews I get in return. The last review I got on my book, Snow Babies, was supposed to be a verified purchase review. That means the reviewer is supposed to buy a copy of the e-book. $0.99 is not too much to ask. I spent $3.95 on the last book I reviewed. But the reviewer turned in a review about three hours after taking the assignment and did not buy a copy of the book. It’s a five-star review because the reviewer read the other reviews and all but one of those is five stars. So, I am cheated out of the sale, and I did not get an honest review because it does not take a Sherlock-Holmes brain to figure out, “HE DID NOT READ THE BOOK!”

I need to keep going with Pubby at least for the rest of the year-long subscription I purchased because it does give me a chance to get read. And I am not the only honest reviewer on there who will read all night to get a 75,000-word novel or book read in only four days. And a Kirkus Review costs more than a thousand dollars, and if you get an unlucky choice of semi-insane reviewer, the Kirkus Reputation can be the kiss of death even for a good book.

So, in order to be kind to myself, I may need complain to the powers behind Pubby even though it is a five-star review. We shall see if Pubby and Amazon really accept this review that was not done the way we are directed to do them.

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The Sardonic Solliloquy

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The homeless man wandered onto center stage just as the spotlight went on.  He shaded his old eyes against the brightness and looked outward into the dark  theater.  It was probably some kind of mistake.

“Oh, so now it’s my turn to talk, eh?”

There was no response.

“Well, if you’re expecting something funny to come out of my mouth, good luck with that.  More than half of what I say that makes people laugh is the result of depression, ill health, and just plain ignorant stupidity.  And the other half of it is not meant to be funny, but is because I don’t always understand what I am saying.”

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There was an embarrassed chuckle somewhere in the darkness.

“I mean, you can’t expect too much from me. I’m a bum.  I have no money.  I have no job.  Not having any work to be bothered with is kinda good.  But the other thing kinda sucks.

And all the great comedians that used to stand on this stage and try to save the world through humor are dead now.  It’s true.  Robin Williams died recently.  George Carlin, Bill Hicks, Richard Pryor, and Bill Cosby are all long gone.”

There was some nervous laughter in the theater.

“Oh, I know, Cosby only thinks he’s dead.  But he kinda killed the character delivering the wisdom in the form of observational comedy, didn’t he.”

 

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“But most of them old boys tried to come up here and tell you the truth.  And the truth was so absolutely unexpectedly wacky and way out of bounds that you just had to laugh.  And the more wicked the humor, the more you just laughed.  You didn’t do anything about the problems they talked about.  But you sure did laugh.”

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“It seems like the more they told you the truth and the more you just laughed about it, the more old and bitter they got.  Sardonic?  You know that word?  Not sardines, fools, but sardonic.   Bitterly humorous and sadly funny.  Seems like a lot of them old boys got more and more bitter, more and more depressed up to the end.  More and more sardonic.”

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“I mean,  Carlin was calling you stupid right to your face at the end.  And you just laughed it off.”

The theater had grown eerily silent.

“But it ain’t all bad, is it?  I mean, at least you all can still laugh.  Only smart people get the jokes.  The ones Carlin moaned about were laughing because everybody else was laughing.  Those weren’t the ones we were talking to.  There’s still life out there somewhere.  Maybe intelligent life.  Maybe aliens ain’t located any intelligent life on Earth yet, but they’re still trying, ain’t they?”

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“You shoulda listened more carefully to what they were saying.  Life and love and laughter were bound up in their words.”

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“So I guess what I’m really saying is… just because I happened to get a rare chance to say it to you all… learn to listen better.  The voices are quiet now.  But the words are still there. And laughing at them is still a good thing.  But remember, you need to hear them too.”

The theater suddenly filled with the roar of a standing ovation.  The old man bowed.  And this was ironic because… the theater had always been empty.  No one at all was there now.

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Filed under comedians, humor, insight, poetry, quotes, strange and wonderful ideas about life, surrealism, Uncategorized, wisdom, word games

AeroQuest 4… Canto 129

Canto 129 – Spider Wars, Flamer-Style

“Yow!  It’s Phoenix!  He’s come back!  And he’s helping the enemy!” cried a nearly-scorched ninja.

“Ow-ow-owie-owch!” cried a flaming ninja.

“Run for cover!  There’s two flamers now!” cried a female ninja with blue hair.

“There are ways to battle even Phoenix!” cried the Green Phantom, the Galtorrian lizard-ninja.  “Those who don’t want to burn, follow me!”

Friashqaztla, more easily known as Freddy, sniffed his way through the smoke until he found Alec and Jackie.  They were chained to the floor in an alcove with sonic psionic dampers trained on them from all sides.  Jackie was completely naked.

Freddy crept up silently in Black Wolf form.

“Alec!  I’ve found you,” he croaked in a smoke-hampered voice.

“Freddy?  That you?” the groggy prisoner replied, looking at the Black Wolf with bleary eyes.

“Yes, I’m here with Rocket and Phoenix to get you out.”

“Phoenix is here?  Is he angry with me?  He told me he’d kill me with the next mistake I made.”

“No.  I don’t think so.  He said as long as you haven’t hurt Jackie he wouldn’t burn you.”

Alec was visibly relieved.

“Why haven’t you escaped with Jackie’s teleport power?”  Freddy was noticing that the girl was conscious, even though she was stark naked and bleary-eyed in the same way that Alec was.

“Psionic dampers.  They are trained on our heads, making it impossible to think or use our powers.”

“If I use my wolf fangs to gnaw through the power cables, I should be able to free your minds.  But can Jackie get you both out of here before Rocket and Phoenix burn the whole place down?”

“Help me to focus, furry-boy, and I will zap Alec out of here faster than you can say Herkimer Hairbloomers.”

Freddy smiled a wolf-smile.  That was an old Zaranian joke.  Herkimer had the psionic power of instant hair-growth.  And useless as that power was, it was a good test of teleport speed.  Herkimer could grow a hundred yards of hair in five seconds.  So, if you were standing next to him, and the teacher said “Herkimer Hairbloomers,” and you still managed to escape being entangled in his golden locks, you were a fast-enough teleport.

“Wait here.  Don’t go anywhere,” Freddy growled, still smiling.  He padded off on wolf feet to look at the power-supply box.

Meanwhile, Rocket was burning Black Spider Ninjas to cinders left and right, all around the Black Spider Castle.  He was having a lot of fun, but he was also wondering where Phoenix had gotten off to.  These ninjas burned easier than pine boards and paper, but the White Spiders were still vastly outnumbered.

Rocket was a naturally gifted flamer, but Phoenix seemed to know so much more than he did.  Especially about the evil and semi-evil stuff you could do.

The Green Phantom suddenly reappeared wearing a yellow and black fire-proof suit.  Of course, Rocket didn’t know what it was, it having been invented specifically in case the BS Ninjas ever needed to defend against attacks from Phoenix.  The Black Spiders seemed far more paranoid and untrustworthy than the White Spiders were used to.

Ninjas supporting hoses moved in to surround Rocket.  All of them wore the yellow and black firemen’s outfits.

“So, what are you gonna do?  Shoot me with water to try to put my candleflame out?”

“Something like that,” said the Green Phantom, probably smirking, but his face hidden within his firesuit.

Streams of white flame-retardant paste shot out at Rocket as if they were lines of toothpaste, sticky and cold, swirling around Rocket who was now apparently filling the role of tooth decay.

The fire was still at his command, but the piles of expended toothpaste didn’t burn.  It was frustrating.  After one final fire-flower decapitated an evil BS Ninja, Rocket could make no more.  His hands were covered in inflammable goo.

“Get a lasso around his neck!” Green Phantom ordered.

These ninjas were in no way psionic, but they were good at ninja skills.  Three loops found their way immediately around Rocket’s neck.

“Pull ‘em tight!”

The nooses cut off Rocket’s airways and he blacked out completely.

                                    *****

Freddy found the wire bearing current to the psionic dampers at about the same moment that the Green Phantom found him.  The Green Phantom lived up to his name not only by wearing green ninja cloth-armor, but also by being a full-blooded, green Galtorrian lizard-man.

“You, little White Spider, lose this round!” the green ninja swore as his katana arched through its attack pattern and sliced cleanly through Freddy’s right front shoulder.

Swiftly Freddy rolled over on his good left shoulder, picturing the muscle re-growth through his third eye just as sensei had taught him.  The black wolf-leg was replaced by the time he was ready to stand on all four legs again.

“So, a little werewolf, just like Ged Aero and his double, the Black Spider Bres.”

“Any part of you that I bite off won’t regrow as swiftly.”  Freddy glowered at the ninja with bright blue wolf-eyes.

“Never mind…  We’re prepared for you already…”  The ninja lowered his katana, turned, and ran away at full speed.

“I will bite through the wire first and then give him the chase and the bite he deserves.”

Freddy bit cleanly through the wire, but the energy that surged through it, and through Freddy’s tongue and mouth besides, was what any werewolf would have to call “silver fire” for the effect it immediately had.

Freddy was transformed into his original naked form and fell full-length upon the stone floor, apparently dead to the world… unconscious at the very least.

                                    *****

As soon as Jackie sensed the return of her teleporting power, she knew she had to free both herself and Alec from their chains.  She pressed her back against as much of Alec’s body as she could manage, then popped both of them out of their iron bonds.

Briefly she was standing there with him looking down at their now-empty manacles.  Already she began forming a picture in her third eye of the courtyard of The Palace of a Thousand Years.  It would take literally all of her remaining energy to get them there, but it would be worth it.  They would both be safe.  And now, she was confident that Alec really loved her, and she… well, she felt exactly the same.

“Jadalaqstbr, you have saved us,” said Alec, pronouncing her Zaranian name correctly for the first time that she could ever remember.

She turned to face him.

He put a gentle hand on her right cheek, and then his lips found hers.

“Alec, um…  I have to concentrated really hard to get us out of here.”

“Yes, Jackie.  But I love you.”

“I… I love you too…”

They moved together for one more kiss.

Then the Green Phantom popped them both with a stun-ray.  Both youths temporarily vibrated with the shock of it.  Then both of them fell to the floor.  Alec first.  Then naked Jackie on top of him.  “Not exactly faster than I could say Herkimer Hairbloomers,” said the Green Phantom.  “Too bad, Alec.  You lose again.”

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Into the Spring

The weather, amazingly, is more than fifty degrees Fahrenheit better than it was a week ago today in Texas.

The sun is now out.

Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day...?”

‘Of course not. It is not Sonnet 18 out there.

It… “art NOT more lovely and more temperate.”

And William Shakespeare is just a pen name.

But I saw a pair of Robins in the park while walking the dog.

And I don’t mean Robin Williams and Robin Hood.

I mean the red-breasted birds that herald the arrival of Spring.

Though it is not Spring. And I have trouble sitting here and writing this due to painful hemorrhoids.

Still, it seems like something new is starting.

It has now been an entire year since the start of the pandemic. 501,000+ people have died.

It is definitely time for something new, something better, to begin.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, birds, commentary, healing, humor, Paffooney

Truth in Advertising… the Mickey Version

Here’s the thing… Mickey is to the art of advertising as Cassandra in the Iliad is to prophecy.

Cassandra, you may remember from the last time you read the Iliad in the original Greek, was gifted with true prophecy. What she foresaw was destined to come true. Unfortunately, she was cursed to never be believed by any she told the prophecy to.

Similarly, Mickey can tell a good story, full of imaginative storylines and compelling plots and themes. But anytime he launches an ad, here, on Twitter, Facebook, or elsewhere, it will not be seen, or, if seen, not responded to.

Case in point; I worked at reformatting, illustrating, and improving the following e-book. I set it up for a free-book promotion this weekend. It is still free from now until midnight on the 23rd of February.

As of this posting, I have only given away four copies of the novel. And I am more than halfway through the third day of a five-day promotion. So, I am on pace to have the worst promotion in the past year.

Of course, I know that this has been a terrible weather week for Texas, and most of the nation. Reading a book about aliens is probably not the foremost thing on people’s minds. I can usually count on Twitter nudists to give my free books a boost even when there are no nudist characters or nudist ideas in the novel. But Friday is the day when Twitter nudists usually say, “Howdy!” to each other on Twitter, and I gave away none on Friday and only one on Saturday. This book has some nudism going on at one point on the apocalyptic hell-scape planet in the story, but that is mostly a matter of naked aliens and plants. So, I can’t give copies of this book away to anybody, not even to fellow nudists.

Catch a Falling Star is the book that Stardusters and Space Lizards is a sequel to.

It is the story of the Telleron invasion of the Earth, landing in a small town in Iowa, invading in invisibility cloaking devices, and failing to even be noticed by most people in town.

The e-book is $3.99 on Amazon, so it is not as good a value as the free one.

This book is about fleeing aliens arriving by accident at a dying planet. It is a planet experiencing biosphere collapse just as Earth will probably do in the near future. And the alien characters, most of them tadpoles (Telleron children) take active steps to try to save the new planet so they, too, might have a place to live.

Anyway, buy the book. It’s free today. All you have to do is click.

But since Mickey the advertiser is like Cassandra, I have to say the opposite. Don’t buy this book. It is awful. You will not love it. You will not think all your friends need to read it too.

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Filed under aliens, humor, novel, Paffooney, publishing

When Cartoon Characters Take Selfies

I often wonder if there is only one picture of me in this self-portrait.

This is definitely a self-portrait, the character in the novel as well as this cartoon.

This is me in a mirror… at least, filtered through my own self-concept.

Grumpy, square-headed German-American me.
Pirate me when I cannot talk like a real human being and need a wooden-headed puppet to interpret for me.
The character Superchicken (on the left) is a self portrait of me at twelve (in the novel). Sherry Cobble (on the right) is NOT me.
Milt Morgan is also a me character. But this picture is based on a school photo of me at ten.
‘Nuff said.
High school Senior me.

Me as a Charlie Brown/Peanuts character. This was created on an APP, and then photo-shopped by me.

,,,

;;;

The self-portrait I use on the backs of paperback novels.

The science-y version of me from the novel The Bicycle Wheel Genius.

This post is probably evidence that cartoonists should probably not portray themselves.

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Filed under autobiography, cartoons, humor, illustrations, Paffooney, self portrait