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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Characters in Colored Pencil

As a novelist, certain characters, as I understand them, have to be portrayed in a certain specific way.  It may be because the character is based on a real person, so those characteristics are tied to reality and changing them will impair the character’s realism.  It may also be because the character has a very special function in the story, possibly a metaphorical or thematic function so a change in those particulars can derail the entire story.  But portraying them in colored pencil is not nearly so arcane.  Colored pencil is my own preferred medium, the one I know best how to use as an artist.

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Snow Babies

These characters are not specifically people.  They are created in nature when a person dies in a blizzard by freezing to death.  They act like banshees in that they serve both as omens of impending death, and collectors of the spirit forms of the deceased.  Snow ghosts after a manner of speaking.

They are from my novel Snow Babies and give the book its name.  Of course, they are not the only snow babies that the title refers to.  But they are essential to the basic theme of the story.

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Brent Clarke

Brent is the leader of the Pirates.  He appears in the novels Superchicken, and The Baby Werewolf, though I have another couple of stories in my head where he plays an important role as well.

Brent is an amalgam of two real people.  One was a boy from my boyhood gang, and the other was a student I taught more than a decade after that.  He is a farm boy, naturally outgoing and athletic, but also a bit of a bully and a bigger bit of a jerk, especially around girls.

 

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Miss Francis “Franny” Morgan

Miss Morgan is a middle school teacher based on a real-life colleague who had a gift for reaching and teaching challenging kids, though she’s also got a bit of me in her since the major challenges she faces in the story are mostly things that happened to me, and I made her an English teacher like me instead of the Science teacher she really was.  She is the main character in the novel that bears her name, Magical Miss Morgan.  She is also a minor character in Superchicken, almost twenty years earlier in time.  I pictured her wearing a purple paisley dress to represent her magical abilities.  That magic is, of course, the ability to make stories come to life through imagination and creativity.

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Sean “Cudgel” Murphy

Cudgel is “Grampy” of the Murphy Clan, living in the home of his eldest son Warren.  He is basically a clown character, being an irascible, evil old man who loves his family, only ever drives his beloved Austin Hereford motor car (“the best goddam car in the whole goddam world from 1954”), and will fight for any reason or excuse at the drop of a hat.

He has already played a role in the novels The Bicycle-Wheel Genius and Snow Babies.  And I hope to use him in several more.  He is loosely based on several old men I have known throughout my life, but he functions mainly as a clown, a comic relief character that breaks up the tension in developing plots.

So there you have some characters that I have written about in my novels and illustrated in living colored pencil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So Grumpy

A rainy day in Texas that has me down and grumpy, so I had to re-blog the appropriate grumpy post.

Catch a Falling Star

Grumpy (a poem about Grumpy life)

Dang it, you old grumpy man!

You annoy me as only a grumpy man can.

You grouse and growl and sometimes howl,

And pace the house like a cat on the prowl.

You worry me, weary me, and generally nasty be,

And of course you are… yes, you are… naturally me.

So why do you worry me, weary me, moan and make bother,

Now that you’re old, and you sound like your father?

Because you are cranky now, creaky with age,

And know you now, soon, the book’s turning its page.

And, though you complain, you do love your life,

And, loathe you will leave it, and your sweet-smiling wife.

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*Footnote*  I was in a foul mood when I wrote this poem, but my favorite team, the Cardinals, won a football game with a last second interception by Tony Jefferson in the end zone.

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Extreme Strangeness That is Probably True

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  • The Russians decided the election in 2016 and put a criminal in the office of the President of the United States.  Enough concrete evidence and testimony of expert investigators now exists and is freely available enough to make a clear case for the truth of it.
  • They will probably get away with it.  Republicans control the government even though they get fewer votes than the other party.  This is because they cheat.  They use voter suppression, gerrymandering, and other dirty tricks to stay in power supported by a base that is controlled by fear, prejudice, and partisan tribalism.  They ignore the rule of law when it favors them getting what they want.  This country is no longer a democracy.
  • 9/11 is a terrible event, but it was not perpetrated by terrorists.  It was done by government organizations working together to hide the truth and cover the wealthy elite who made money and gained power from this horrible event.  The airlines that were hijacked made money for Wall Street investors who bet the stocks for those specific airlines would make a sudden fall in value.  The airplane (or possible missile) that hit the Pentagon hit the budget offices that were investigating the missing trillions of dollars, and the money was never found.
  • Aliens are real and routinely visiting our planet.  Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan all knew this for a fact, and the rest of the presidents since Truman may have known it as well… Though probably not Trump.  He would attempt to steal from the aliens or find some other way to make money from them.  The evidence is there in the form of testimony, artifacts, whistleblower testimony, photographs, and documentation that sometimes slips out of the government’s grasp.  The very real cover-up of the truth of it is also evidence of the reality of it.
  • The human mind is an incredible thing, with bizarre capabilities that we are only beginning to understand.  Synesthesia and savants with mysterious brain powers are also a documented reality.  Remote viewing and other mind powers have not only been studied by the government but used by them.

Bizarre things are often more true than the ordinary mundane things we all believe in every day.  You are welcome to argue with me.  I wish many of these things were not true.  But I know better.  And that sick feeling in your stomach is evidence that you know better too.

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Hidden Kingdom (through page 15)

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H21x

HK41

 

HK31

Hk51

HK61

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hk81

hk91

hk101

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What I Spent the Day On

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Perhaps it was a total waste of time.  But I committed willful acts of art today instead of doing anything useful.

Do you see the fairies in the picture?  They weren’t visible when I snapped the picture.  Ironically, that is both the literal truth and a  complete lie.

 

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Baseball is Life

Well, the world hasn’t ended yet, and the Cubs won’t win this year, but baseball is still life.

Catch a Falling Star

The Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians to win the World Series.  They blew a 5 to 1 lead and had to squeak out a one point win in 10 innings… with a rain delay in the extra inning… but they won!  No, they WON!!!!!!!!

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But wait, Mickey, didn’t you say the world would end if the Cubs won?  Didn’t you predict they wouldn’t win for another 108 years?  Aren’t you a gol danged Cardinals’ fan?

You got that right.  The Cubs won.  The world will now end.  And I still live and die by the Cardinals’ fortunes.  But it is a case of the universe unfolding as it should.  After all, baseball is life.

You see, rooting for the underdog and being loyal forever, like a true Cubs’ fan, is something God expects in every day life from all of us… at the very least, from the best of…

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October 12, 2018 · 7:18 pm

The Silly Stuffy at the Center of the Tootsie Pop of Life

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Sometimes a picture is all it takes to say it all.

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