To see the complete Chapter 1, use the following link;https://catchafallingstarbook.net/2018/11/24/hidden-kingdom-chapter-1-complete/
The hardest dream-to-reality connection to make is my duck nightmare. I know I bummed the world out yesterday with unfunny dream deliberations. But in this post I explore the lighter side of nightmares. It all began when I was about four years old and we went to the Deer Park Zoo in Mason City, Iowa.
Truthfully, when you look at it from the proper point of view, at four you are small and all animals look like monsters. The three ostriches they had in a chicken-wire pen were at least several hundred feet tall. The deer were huge with giant Bambi-eyes. I was little and still very much in a touchy-feely stage of life. And the goose-pen had a large hole in the front, just large enough for a goose head and neck to fit through at high speed. That is exactly what happened when one wide-eyed nerd-child wandered close enough to give a gander a premium chance at a beak-first goosing. Whether my pants had to be changed immediately afterwards is something I have yet to work up the courage to ask my parents about. No rush. They are only in their eighties now.
Anyway, I was left with a recurring nightmare, always involving a duck or very similar waterfowl with big, massive, white dentures. Yes, you heard right, a duck with teeth. It’s all right for you to laugh now, but I woke up in cold sweat every single time I had that nightmare. Right from the moment when I realize that the evil little duck-mind has fixed its wishes on taking a nice, big bite, to the split second where the toothy duck-head zips towards me, I am gripped with total existential terror. And it wakes me up.
So what does this doozy of a dream mean? Do dreams have to have a meaning? All two-hundred-plus times? (I lost count, so sue me.) I do believe, however that it must be some kind of anxiety dream. And the last occurrence was now four years ago, so the possibility of duck-dream remission is very real to me.
If my last post chilled your innards, then hopefully this one lit them up with laughing gas.
Canto 136 – Ugly Flowers
Mai Ling had swiftly learning the ninja skills that Ged Aero-sensei taught the students in his dojo. Unlike the majority of the White Spider Mutant Ninja Space Babies, Mai was completely in tune with the skills of movement, attack, and defense she was learning at the dojo because her psionic mutant power was telekinesis, the ability to remotely move things with the mind.
Her mental ability complemented her ninja attack skills in that she could alter the course of projectiles in flight. If she threw a ten-pointed shuriken at someone, it would not miss.
The picture in her inner eye, the secret of psionic control, was always the flower-like shuriken rotating through the air at the target, even if it needed to make a ninety degree turn to hit the precise spot she aimed at.
Shu Kwai, Ged-sensei’s lead student, had worked with her hundreds of times, helping her to see the power to control movement of objects as part of a wondrous dance. He was also a telekinetic and could also do the dance. It was a dance that could protect others from harm, or if the need arose, destroy them.
At twelve years old, Mai was already developing into a shapely young lady.
“You can’t be ashamed of your body when you are doing the dance,” reminded Shu. “We wear hardly any clothes not because we are immodest, but because we do not wish to impede the dance in any way.”
Mai frowned at him. Shu could be such a prig at times. He stood there wearing only a white loincloth, while he himself had made the rule that no one should go un-armored on a potentially hostile planet. Except for the ninja underwear, his light orange-yellow body was functionally nude.
Boys could get away with that, especially scrawny teenage boys with practically nothing to show off anyway.
Shu and Mai were both natives to the planet Gaijin where Master Aero’s dojo was located. That meant that they were descended half from the Japanese humans of Earth, and half from the nearly-human Sylvani of deep space. Mai herself had bare feet, bare legs, and a bare midriff. She was not about to leave breasts exposed, or even her arms. She wore a computerized ring-sleeve on her left arm, which helped give gauss-magnetic acceleration to objects she threw. And the magnetic arm bands on her right arm gave her a magnetic shield she could shape and manipulate with telekinesis.
“I am not going out into this living jungle without any clothes on,” she stated firmly to Shu. “You don’t know if these strange aliens will attack. Besides, I fight better with clothes on. I’m not a pervert like you.”
At fourteen, Shu was definitely vulnerable to insults like “pervert.” He cast his eyes downward to scan the ground and blushed furiously. It was entirely possible, Mai thought, that Shu had a secret crush on her. With the red flower in her hair, she was definitely beautiful, at least, in her own eyes, and possibly those of Phoenix whom she now considered her boyfriend.
“Okay, we all better obey orders while we are on this weird planet. I was just talking about on the practice grounds.” Shu sniffed imperiously for added emphasis. That was okay. Mai accepted the fact that he outranked her.
“It’s just you being a hypocrite like usual,” sniffed Hassan Parker, the boy who had been forbidden from going naked. Shu didn’t even offer a comeback.
Cornucopia was probably the strangest planet Mai had ever visited. A vegetable starship had simply appeared in Gaijin space and announced themselves in need of help. Little Gyro the Nebulon inventor and one of Ged Aero-sensei’s favorite students had discovered that all the intelligent creatures were plants and had a special scent language unlike anything in the known galaxy.
The first alien they had been able to communicate with was a strange, onion-like creature that Gyro’s computer translator named, “Luigi the Onion-Guy.” Why the plant-man had an Italian first name was a complete mystery, but there was a clue in the fact that Gyro’s computer also dubbed the language of the Cornucopians “Stink-Talk.” Nebulons were known for weird senses of humor. And Gyro with his unusual Psionic power had programmed the thing as he rearranged its molecules with his little blue brain.
Shu Kwai helped Mai Ling put on shielding-armor and kinetic shock absorbers.
“Are you sure we can’t take any weapons?” Mai asked.
Luigi the Onion-Guy had pleaded with Ged-sensei not to kill any plants, not even the seemingly evil “Throckpods.”
“Master Aero doesn’t want us to anger or even frighten any of the regular flower-people of this planet.”
“Flower people? They look like walking thistles and weeds to me.”
“Still, Ged Aero-sensei only wants us to locate a Throckpod and convince him to come back with us so our group can study it.”
“So, it’s a spy mission.”
“Oh, yeah, that’s different.”
The jungle was different than any other jungle Mai had ever been in. Instead of trees and vines and shrubs, it was made up of salt pillars, living crystals, weedy plants, and mold. Mai’s ring sleeve indicated that large parts of it were toxic and deadly. The two young ninjas proceeded cautiously.
Each time they encountered a carrot-guy or a potato-guy or a corn-stalk-guy, they were told to take a different trail through the toxic jungle. Fortunately, Mai’s ring sleeve was programmed not only to interpret the plant people’s Stink-Talk, but could make a map of their progress as well. Otherwise, Mai and Shu would be hopelessly lost
Finally, a radish-guy with a puffy red and purple face pointed to a large stand of weeds.
“In that spot you will pinpoint a Throckpod.” The ring sleeve translated the smells and spoke the message aloud in a voice that sounded like Mickey Mouse. Darn that Gyro!
Shu looked at Mai and nodded. They walked over to the stand of weeds.
“One of you is a Throckpod?” asked Shu. The translator device made the word “Throckpod” smell suspiciously skunk-like.
“Who is asking?” said one of the flower-headed weeds. With nearly humanoid eyes. “You appear to be skoog monkeys.”
Skoog monkey was an insult on most planets, at least, when used to describe a humanoid. They were vicious little primates from the planet Misko Skoogalia. Human beings were much more like the little poop-throwers than any human was comfortable admitting.
“We are students of Ged Aero-sensei, the White Spider,” said Shu. “We think you may have heard of him, because other Cornucopians came to our world to seek him out.”
“We have heard of your head monkey, yes. But we do not recognize his authority.”
“All we want is for a Throckpod to come and meet with him. We wish to learn more about your planet. And about your people.”
Everything went silent and smell free. Mai wondered if they knew that the translator device in her ring sleeve would pick up and translate any smells they used to talk about the situation. Maybe, however, they used telepathy or something. Mai wished Sarah the telepath was with her at that moment.
One exceptionally large weed came over to Mai and bent down over her head. Mai realized that it was examining her red flower with little seed-like eyes.
“You have killed a seedling!” said the possible Throckpod. “You must be killed in return.”
Mai’s heart leaped. Shu was obviously surprised too. They had no weapons, but both of them could pick up and throw rocks, pebbles, and crystal shards with only a thought. Mai could propel one like a bullet with her ring sleeve.
The rest of the weeds gathered around them too.
“It’s a flower from my own world,” said Mai, lamely. How could she make these plant people understand that, not only was the flower not intelligent like them, it was an artificial hair decoration and made from silk?
“A flower is a flower,” said the Throckpod, “and a monkey is a monkey.”
“Pick up a score of pebbles and rocks, Mai,” said Shu. “It’s time we gave them the old lawnmower treatment!”
“Lawnmower?” asked the Throckpod.
“A machine for cutting grass,” said Shu. “It cuts plants down close to the roots.”
If a weed could turn pale, then these Throckpods were suddenly gray. They knew about human technology apparently, and were completely unsure of what Mai and Shu were capable of. It was at that very moment that Mai had a bright idea.
“Why do you assume the flower is dead?” asked Mai, looking into the human-like eyes of the weed standing over her.
“Because it doesn’t move.”
Mai smiled. She used her telekinetic ability to make the petals of the silk flower move. In fact, she made the delicate little thing do a spinning dance just above her brow. “This flower is alive and it is my good friend and companion.”
“Have it say so,” the Throckpod replied menacingly.
“It is a tiny flower,” said Mai, thinking quickly, “and tiny flowers on my planet have not learned to speak. Can you not see that it is alive?”
“Accept her word, brother,” said one of the other weeds. “We don’t want to risk this lawnmowing thing.”
The plant-man relented. “Very well. I will go with you to see this master monkey of yours. You will remember that Throckpods are the natural rulers of this planet, and we are to be treated as king-things.”
“King-things?” asked Mai.
“Royalty,” suggested Shu.
“Oh,” said Mai. It was Gyro’s crazy translator program again.
So, finally, Mai’s Cornucopea spy mission was ending as she trudged back to the White Spider Mutant Ninja Space Baby camp. She had found and mastered a walking weed known as a Throckpod, and she left with the melancholy realization that it would be nice to have a talking flower to put in her hair, but that wish could never come true.
The picture is called “One Day the Old Mad Gods Will Be Made Whole Again.”
It comes from a time in my life, in the early 80’s when I was fascinated with Medieval art and their conception of Armageddon and the end of everything.
They believed that everything, even the end of the world, was somehow cyclical. Like Odin, Thor, and Ragnarok, the end of everything merely wiped away what was and started again with something new.
It will not be too long before I am putting such notions to the test with my own life. Signs of the onset of Parkinson’s Disease plague me, and make me worry about losing control of my body and probably something worse, control of my mind.
I may be finding out soon if there is an afterlife. Of course, as a Christian Existentialist, I don’t need one. I am satisfied with my life the way it is, and I don’t anticipate messing it up significantly before it is complete.
But there is definitely evil in this world. The fossil fuel industries decided back in the 1970’s that they would do anything to preserve short-term profits, even sacrificing the long-term existence of life on Earth to continue to exploit the resources they gripped tightly in their evil, green hands.
We only have about twelve years left to reverse the destruction of the entire ecosphere on Earth. And it will require massive technological problem-solving by the very best of us, and probably an impossibly difficult reeducation of stupid people and Republicans. That means we are more likely to become extinct than survive as a species. Probably good to know so that we can be prepared for it.
Hopefully the evil people burn with us.
But because we have existed in this reality, our existence is now permanent. If we reach the point of no longer being here, we still existed, and for whatever reason or purpose, the fact of our existence will still be real.
I can’t prove it, but I firmly believe there is life out there. We are not alone in this universe. The odds are astronomically against us being all there is. And, truth-be-told, they are more like us than they are different from us. When and if you meet them, be kind and welcoming. They may still kill and eat you, but the same can be said about all of us. And we are better off dying ignorant and happy than we are when we curl up in a ball of misery and refuse to participate in anything… ever, Who knows? Our interstellar pen pals may be the salvation of us in the end.
You know how creepy penguins in cartoons can be, right? The Penguins of Madagascar are like a Mission-Impossible Team gone horribly wrong and transformed into penguins. The penguin in Wallace and Gromit’s The Wrong Trousers disguised himself as a chicken to perform acts of pure evil. Cartoonists all know that penguins are inherently creepy and evil.
I recently learned a hard lesson about penguins. You know the joke, “What’s black and white and red all over? A penguin with a sunburn.” I told that joke one too many times. Who knew the Dallas metroplex had so many loose penguins lurking around? They are literally everywhere. One of them overheard me. And apparently they have vowed a sacred penguin vow that no penguin joke goes unpunished.
As I walked the dog this morning, I spotted creepy penguin eyes, about three pairs, looking at me from behind the bank of the creek bed in the park. When I went to retrieve the empty recycle bins from the driveway, there they were again, looking at me over the top of the neighbor’s privacy fence.
“Penguins see the world in black and white,” said one of the Penguins.
“Except for purple ones,” added the purple one.
“Penguins can talk?” I tried unsuccessfully to ask.
“Penguins only talk in proverbs,” said one of the penguins.
“But the purple one gives the counterpoint,” said the purple one.
“The wisdom of penguins is always cold and harsh,” said one of the penguins.
“Except on days like this when it’s hot,” said the purple one.
“You should always listen to penguins,” said one of the penguins.
“Of course, people will think you are crazy if you do,” said the purple one.
“People who talk to penguins are headed for a nervous breakdown,” said one of the penguins.
“Unless you are a cartoonist. Then it is probably normal behavior,” said the purple one.
“Is this all real?” I tried unsuccessfully to ask.
“Everyone knows that penguins are real,” said one of the penguins.
“But there are no purple penguins in nature,” said the purple one.
So, I sat down to write this post about penguins and their proverbs with a very disturbing thought in my little cartoonist’s head… Why am I really writing about penguins today? I really have nothing profound to say about penguin proverbs. Especially profound penguin proverbs with a counterpoint by a purple penguin. Maybe it is all merely a load of goofy silliness and a waste of my time.
“Writing about penguins is never a waste of time,” said one of the penguins.
“And if you believe that, I have some choice real estate in the Okefenokee Swamp I need to talk to you about,” added the purple one.
I have always had very vivid dreams. This picture was inspired by one. I dreamed of being a seventh-grader going to school in lizard-person school on a dinosaur planet. And throughout the dream my classmates were threatening to eat me. Oh, and the clothes they are wearing in the picture were the school uniforms.
Of course, naked-in-school dreams are a common one. This picture is more of a naked-on-Main-Street dream.
The title of this post is a Shakespearian Hamlet phrase. The picture above is a detail from a dream about Shakespeare’s The Tempest dream.
That particular nightmare had Caliban in it.
Fairy tale dreams are much nicer. In this Sleeping Beauty dream, the monsters are tiny.
I also admit to having animated-cartoon-type dreams. The turtle-boy in front is from the actual dream. The rest of it is made up to fill in the background of the picture.
This dream was obviously inspired by a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I have both good dreams and nightmares. And all of it provides fodder to fuel pictures and stories, but not always in that order.
Ever have one of those days where you feel the need to write, but you don’t know what to write about?
Today my second vaccine appointment was postponed until next week. The weather is blustery and rainy. So, I am left with unexpected writing time and no ideas on the yet-to-write-about list.
Well, this book is listed as a free Kindle book from today until Tuesday, the 20th, the day my vaccination was rescheduled for. This is the third time Recipes for Gingerbread Children has been in a free-book promotion. I am hoping it does better than the last couple of promotions. It really is a good book, but it gets passed over because of its connections to nudism, or because people see the title and think it’s a cookbook. I promise, if you try it, you will find it’s much more complex and fascinating then that. The story began as a retelling of Hansel and Gretel. but this time the witch in the Gingerbread House is Grandma Gretel, a Holocaust survivor trying to deal with what she lost by telling stories and baking magical cookies. And it has a werewolf in it for good measure, a little one who is not a predator, but himself a victim.
The book I am working on now… my work in progress, is a story I am calling The Boy Who Rose on a Golden Wing. This is a novel idea about handling depression, and it was originally titled Valerie in Darkness. Valerie Clarke is still the protagonist, but the story is not solely about her depression.
I used this picture to illustrate it, but this will not be the cover of the book. It will have a cardinal in it, but the girl in this picture is not Valerie.
I recently got the book The Baby Werewolf reviewed on Pubby, but the reader did not actually buy the book, which is what I paid for, and he or she probably did not actually read it. 75,000 words in just a couple of hours? I think not. So, the five-star review will be pretty useless to me in the long run.
So, now I have basically written about nothing in this post. And I have written to my goal, but achieved only that and nothing more. Still, if you are interested at all in how a writer’s mind works on a disappointingly bad day, you now have some evidence for the formation of negative opinions. And you may have some idea of what to avoid in future blogs. (And I messed with the colored-text feature out of sheer goofiness and do apologize if you actually read this far only to be disappointed by the content of this paragraph.)
My old laptop is not happy…
It’s seen much better days,
It growls and grumbles, snorts and fumbles…
And gets revenge in many ways.
Now it thinks a tiny font…
Is funny next to this
And zooms the screen five-hundred percent
To make the next rhyme miss!
And hopefully, I can afford//#%& a new c om pu ter soon
Because this one is veery weiiird
And totally out of tune.
You may have looked at the name of my website here on WordPress and wondered, “Why in the heck has that fool Mickey called this thing he writes Catch a Falling Star?”
The answer is, he named it after the first good published novel he wrote at the insistence of the I-Universe Publishing’s marketing adviser. Very poor reason for doing anything, that.
But, the secondary reason is because of where that title came from. Look at the first stanza of this poem by John Donne.
So, now, you are justified in asking, “What nonsense is this? That doesn’t have any coherent meaning, does it?”
And you would be right. These are impossible things that I am being ordered to do by a very religious cleric in the Anglican Church who was originally a Catholic, but, in the time of Henry VIII Catholicism was made illegal, and he wrote this poem about not being able to find an honest woman in his drunken, wasted youth anyway. He is ordering me here to not only “catch a falling star” (and catching a meteorite with your bare hands has rather hot consequences), but also to have sex with a semi-poisonous plant, explain why we can’t go backwards in time, determine whether and why God might’ve given Satan goat feet, listen to probably-nonexistent humanoid creatures singing, find a way to avoid anybody ever looking at me with envy and then doing something to me because of it, and, most importantly, find a place where the wind blows in a way that fills your head with facts that actually makes you smarter.
It is exactly what I wanted to write about. Impossible things actually being accomplished. Finding the meaning behind alien beings from outer space developing an intense love of I Love Lucy television broadcasts and Mickey Mouse Club music. Discovering why intensely shy people need to embrace social nudity. Defining who is actually a werewolf and who is not, uncovering who and what real monsters are. Singing songs so sad that it magically makes people fall in love with you. Talking to clowns in your dreams and getting real answers to the meaning of life, love, and laughter.
Catching falling stars is the stupid idea that this wacky, idiotic little blog is about. It is what I write about constantly. You have to kill me to get me to stop. So, there is your fair warning. Read on at your own peril.