Category Archives: artwork

Musings on Manic Mumbles in My Mind

The voices in my head never stop mumbling. For the past year I have been having trouble with passing out while trying to write or draw or watch TV. And yet, scenes play out vividly in the theater of my mind while I am briefly unconscious. I’ve been to the doctor about it. But there is no cure for the yammerings of an unquiet thought-mill. The word-weavers keep weaving new sentences. The cloth-cutters keep snipping out patterns and themes. And the prose-sewers keep making essays and shirts and jeans. How did my mental-breakdown voices get stuck inside a garment mill?

The mutterings this morning have been about writing success. Do I dare think any of that has my name associated with it?

Well, my blog views have been up this week. And this morning my prayers have been answered for my book Sing Sad Songs. A reviewer defended my book as a legitimate 5-star novel, and refuted the charges that my book is somehow child-pornography. I have been needing some validation that my book, the product of my darkest secrets and the affirmation of my victory over personal pain, is worthy of being seen as a good book.

And, of course, I have been thinking a lot about the talking-dog story, the one about Horatio who smokes an imaginary meerschaum pipe and talks only to Bobby Niland, and solves murders committed on chickens by the evil Dr. Rattiarty, a really evil real rat.

I have been discussing it endlessly with my dog on our walks in the park for her to take care of her pooping in public. We argue endlessly about how to make the tale believable.

She says, “The thing you don’t seem to understand is that, in real life, dogs can’t talk.”

And I say, “Then how is it that we are even arguing at the moment?”

And she answers, “It’s all because you insist on listening continually to the voices in your head.”

And there is a considerable discussion going on in the faculty lounge of my mental monkey house about the fact that for so many years I had numerous opportunities to be a practicing nudist, and I ran away from it as something I should not do… Until I grew old and weak and gave in to the desire to become a naked man amongst socially nude naturists and now I am unable to physically do it in any way but in my imagination.

“You simply lack the resolve, Michael, to take the bull by the horns and tackle it,” said the Dean of Brain Studies.

“Well, of course he can’t do that!” exclaimed the Professor of Inappropriate Thoughts. “Mickey has no Moo-Wrestling muscles to manage the kind of bull fighting you suggest. The kind where he wrestles with bull-puckie.”

“Mike is a man who can make up his own mind,” said the Associate Professor of Metaphor Mixing. “He just has to stop listening to us.”

“Can you all just SHUT UP!!!” said the Teaching Assistant of Pragmatic Prattle. “We are just a Monkey-House faculty incapable of making any sense.”

So, I am taking the Teaching Assistant’s advice now, and I am closing this essay immediately.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, humor, mental health, metaphor, Mickey, Paffooney, self pity

The Nature of Our Better Angels

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I have friends and relatives that believe in angels.  Religious people who believe in the power of prayer and the love of God.  And I cannot say that I do not also believe.  But I also happen to believe that angels live among us.

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My Great Grandma Nellie Hinckley was, as far as I am concerned, an angel.  Born in the late 1800’s, she was a practical prairie farmer’s wife.  She knew how to make butter in a churn.  She knew how to treat bee stings and spider bites. She knew how to cook good, wholesome food that stuck to your ribs and kept you going until the next meal rolled around.  She knew how to cook on a wood-burning stove, and knew why you needed to keep corn cobs in a pile by the outhouse door.  Or, in the case of rich folks, why you needed to read the Sears catalog in the little room behind the cut-out crescent moon.

She also knew how to head a family.  She had seven kids and raised six of them up to adulthood.  She sent a son off to World War II.  She had nine grandchildren and more great grandchildren, of which I was one of the not-so-great ones, than I can even count on two hands and two feet, the toes of which I can’t always see.  Great great grandchildren were even greater.  Tell me you can’t believe she was a messenger from God, always knowing God’s will, and making the future happen with a steady hand, and eyes that brooked no nonsense from lie-telling boys.

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Mother Mendiola was an angel too.  I met her at my first school, Frank Newman Junior High in Cotulla, Texas.  She was the seventh grade Life Science teacher.  She had been a nun before becoming a teacher, and she was a single lady her whole life.  But she was a natural mother figure to the children in her classes.  She’s the one who taught me how to talk to fatherless boys, engage them in learning about things that excited them, and become a lifelong mentor to them, willing to help them with life’s problems even long after they had graduated from both junior high and high school.  She was not only a mother to students, but she nurtured other teachers as well.  She showed Alice and I how to talk to Hispanic kids even though we were both so white we almost glowed in the dark.  She went to bat for kids who got in trouble with the principal, and even those who sometimes got into trouble with the law.  She had a way of holding her hand out to kids and encouraging them to place their troubles in it.  She even helped pregnant young girls with wise counsel and a loving, accepting heart, even when they were seriously in the wrong.  When they talk about being an “advocate for kids” in educational conferences, they always make me picture her and her methods.  I can still see her in my mind’s eye with clenched fists on her hips and saying, “I am tired of it, and it will get better NOW!”  And it always got better.  Because she was an angel.  She had the power of the love of God behind her every action and motivation.  It still makes me weep to remember she is gone now.  She got her wings and flew on to other things a long time ago now.

Some people may call it a blasphemy for me to say that these people, no matter how good and critically important they were, could really be angels.  But I have to say it.  I have to believe it.  I know this because I saw them do these things, with my own two eyes, and how could they not be messengers from God?  I convinces me that I need to work at becoming an angel too.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, compassion, humor, insight, inspiration, Paffooney, religion, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Debussy Reverie

Some Sunday thoughts require the right music.

Some Sunday thoughts actually are music.

rev·er·ie

/ˈrev(ə)rē/

noun

  • 1.a state of being pleasantly lost in one’s thoughts; a daydream:”a knock on the door broke her reverie

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I had originally thought to call this post “A Walk with God.” But that would probably offend my Christian friends and alienate my Jehovah’s Witness wife. It would bother my intellectual atheist friends too. Because they know I claim to be a Christian Existentialist, in other words, “an atheist who believes in God.” Agnostics are agnostics because they literally know they don’t know what is true and what is merely made up by men. And not knowing offends most people in the Western world.

But Debussy’s Reverie is a quiet walk in the sacred woods, the forest of as-yet-uncovered truths.

And that is what I need today. A quiet walk in the woods… when no literal woods are available.

This pandemic has been hard on me. I am a prisoner in my room at home most days. My soul is in darkness, knowing that the end could be right around the corner. I am susceptible to the disease. It didn’t slay me on its first visit to the house, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get me on the second or third visit. Health experts are expecting a resurgence of up to 3,000 deaths per day before the end of the year. If I am relying on luck to avoid it, luck will run out.

I am not afraid to die. I have no regrets. But I have been in a reverie about what has been in the past, what might have been, and what yet may be… if only I am granted the time.

And, as always, I feel like I have writing yet to do. I am about to finish The Wizard in his Keep. And I have stories beyond that to complete if I may.

But the most important thing right now is having time to think. Time for Reverie. And reflections upon the great symphony of life as it continues to play on… with or without me.

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Art to Help Me Be Happy

Some of the drawings and paintings I do, I do because they make me happy. I know it’s more noble if I do it to make you, the viewer, happy. But part of making art is that you are making it for your own needs. Art is therapy. Often, art is love. This picture of Shannon (not her real name) makes me happy. She was a student I loved, (only in the legal, Platonic sense.)

This one makes me happy. I drew it on a day I needed to laugh. And I laugh a little even now when I look at it.

This one is also a smirkable smirk-maker.

I drew this on a day when I was lonely.

This one tickles me on many levels.

These Telleron, temporary Martians helped me start my publishing career with the publication of Catch a Falling Star.

And pretty girls can make me happy too.

Especially naked ones.

And I mean drawing them, not what was in your evil mind.

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What Stupid People Think About

Let me begin by reminding you that the only head I have to explore as an example of what I am talking about in this essay is my own stupid head.

So, this is not an insult post. This is self-deprecating humor. And therefore, the contents of your own stupid head are completely safe.

Now, there is considerable evidence in the books already that Mickey is not, and has not been, particularly stupid for a large portion of his time on earth. He got college scholarships based on his ACT and SAT scores to get his undergraduate degree for free (in the 1970’s when it was significantly cheaper than now). And he has been both a teacher in a gifted program and the middle-school coordinator of that same gifted program. So, Mickey has effectively fooled everybody into thinking he is not stupid. But consider for a moment where the laughs come from when watching Stephen Urkel on TV, or the four nerds from Big Bang Theory. Smart people do stupid things and are very awkward at times, proving that, no matter how smart they are, smart people are capable of being quite stupid.

What, then, is the stupid thinking in Mickey’s stupid head?

Well, there are a number of things. Mickey is, as you may know if you read any of his nudity blogs, obsessed with nakedness. He was assaulted as a child in a way that caused him to be afraid of nudity and slow-developing in sexuality. As he grew older, he had to compensate for this lack of natural development. So, he has reached an age where his brain stupidly rejects guard-rails when talking about nudity and sex. He has convinced himself that he wants to be a nudist, and writes about nudity constantly, as evidenced by this very paragraph. When Mark Twain was in his seventies, he did leave the house without remembering to wear clothes more than once. The neighbors did not compliment him for doing that. That and worse is probably in Mickey’s near future.

And sex, as a subject sloshing around in a brain awash with hormones and other nightmare chemical imbalances, leads to a rash of stupid decisions. Of course, Mickey is old and has had chronic prostatitis long enough to eliminate the possibility of making a stupid decision about infidelity since those body parts don’t actually work anymore, but it leads to buying numerous things sold by marketers using sex as a way to sell things. Cabinets full of hair gel and cologne and Herbalife products that can never be used up is the result. And the wife is frustrated with the foods Mickey is constantly addicted to. “Why so much chips and salsa, Mickey?” Chips and salsa? Hubba hubba!

And Mickey’s old brain, full of a vast quantity of useless trivia-type knowledge, random wisdom floating around in a disconnected fashion, and prejudices formed by a bizarre obsession with things like nudism, Disney movies, comic books, model trains, and doll-collecting, becomes strangely creative. He begins to believe weird things.

For example, he thinks rabbits, if they were suddenly transformed into people, would make better people than people ever do. They are mostly quiet most of the time. They eat an all-vegetable, healthy diet. And they don’t vote Republican.

He obsessively also thinks about how his mind is working and how thinking about thinking is likely to improve thinking. He even realizes that the map of his head, provided above, doesn’t accurately reflect the many branching corridors and dead-end hallways of his actually-complicated-yet-stupid mind. He thinks that thinking too much about thinking makes you stupid.

I have illustrated this entire piece without uploading any new art… What a stupid thing is that?

And finally, Mickey is left with a sense of wonder about how it is entirely possible that everybody is stupid at least part of the time. And he wonders what possible things that you, dear reader, are thinking about that you consider at least somewhat stupid? You are welcome to tell him in the comments. But remember, this post is about stupid thoughts in Mickey’s head. You are perfectly free not to worry about your own stupidity.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, foolishness, goofy thoughts, humor, Mickey, Paffooney, satire, strange and wonderful ideas about life

It is Natural to be Nude

I have probably lost a lot of followers on both Twitter and WordPress by associating myself with the idea of being a nudist. A couple of my novels that have nudist characters in them or scenes where characters have no clothes on have received some hostile blow-back. I have gotten bad reviews on books that otherwise receive excellent reviews. Of course, this is because any suggestion of nudity or sensuality is perceived as pornography, especially when my best books involve young teen characters.

The general opinion seems to be that nudity is evil. “If God wanted us to be naked, He wouldn’t have had us born with a full suit of clothes on,” they say. Nudity equals sex. Because Queen Victoria said so.

The general opinion is not my opinion. But to avoid being censured or fired as a public school teacher, I had to hide the fact that I have been struggling all my life with a desire to live without clothes on. And now that I am retired, due to poor health, I keep running into roadblocks to actually practice being a nudist. I can really only freely be that in fiction stories.

Being a victim of a sexual assault when I was a ten-year-old boy helps me to understand female book reviewers who are hyper-sensitive to any suggestion that children and sex are being linked together. I spent years being traumatized in PE locker rooms when boys who were larger than me saw me in the showers. And trying to get out of taking the showers had consequences that included having to tell someone why I couldn’t stand the idea. And the only way I could do that would’ve been by lying. I dared not tell the truth. My father died in 2020 and my mother died last month. And neither of them knew what happened to me in a neighborhood back yard in 1966. I never found a way to tell them, and they didn’t ever read this blog. I console myself in th knowledge that, not knowing anything about it meant they enjoyed happier lives. It was not something that anyone could’ve done anything about after the fact. My attacker was dead before I ever talked about it openly.

But my journey towards being a nudist was in many ways critical to healing the mental scars of that old trauma. I used to shudder at the idea of taking my clothes off when I visited the clothing-optional apartment complex on Manor Road in Austin, Texas. My girlfriend’s sister lived there with her husband and child. I sat around a living room full of naked people with my clothes on, learning to accept them for the way they were. And they had no problem accepting me, even though I was using the clothing option. I learned that nudists are more open and honest about everything. And the place was no beauty contest. You were presented with many different variations of human anatomy. And I didn’t go blind or become a sex fiend.

The pictures in this post, nude males all, do not represent any sort of latent homosexuality in me. In fact, I am completely heterosexual with a wife and three kids. I have had gay friends and students of both persuasions. And I have no problems with them at all. These pictures are not about any kind of sexual experience. Instead they represent my own personal quest to have a healthy and positive body-image of myself in my own stupid head. I had to teach myself over time that I was not a naked prey animal, doomed to be preyed upon by those who are stronger and more predatory. These images are meant to show that I am normal, and not hideous inside my own head. They show me for the child that I wished I could’ve been. Naked, yet unafraid.

And all of this primal-scream therapy that I am finally admitting to has become a major theme in my work, writing comic adventures in young-adult novels.

Writing about these things in some of my books led to becoming a part of a community of writers who are also nudists and write fiction centered around nudist characters. I was invited to take part in a story-writing project by Ted Bun and Will Forest. This book of holiday stories will be coming out in November.

So, even if it loses me readers and gets my artwork gawked at by perverts on the internet, I will continue to take nudism to be a very good and healthy thing. I will continue to try to be a nudist for whatever time I can in the time I have left. Being nude is natural… just the way I was born into this world.

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What God Wants from This Crazy World

Tobias and the Angel : Francisco De Goya

So, by what right do I make any assumptions about what God actually wants? I am, after all, arguably an atheist, definitely agnostic, and probably just as stupid as anyone else you could possibly name about the subject of God and His plan… except for Kenneth Copeland and Pat Robertson and every other religious-con-man-snake-oil merchant. Oh, and Tucker Carlson who knows pretty well what Satan wants, but not God… if there is one.

But I can see the hand of God in world events of late as clearly as anyone you can name. No exceptions there.

With the recent quadruple-spiked pandemic, the resulting recession, the insurrection by the criminal former president, and our headlong rush into climate-change apocalypse, any idiot can tell that God is itching to do some serious smiting. Yes, smiting, that unhappy word for getting smashed to death by Thor’s Hammer.

Tucker Carlson has been revealing what somebody with pretty big wings wants to happen nightly on his Fox News Spews broadcasts. He wants almost all of the money in the world to go to Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and all those closest billionaires who want to overtake Bezos or Musk. The God Tucker serves wants the rich to get richer, and everyone else to die or become totally subserviant to the rich.

And the government Tucker’s God has put in place are actively carrying out that God’s commands as Stephen Fry explains.

The zealots who swarm from Trump rally to Trump rally continue to insist that Trump is God’s choice to be their leader, and they must take election results, success, and even life away from Democrats, liberals, socialists, and anybody else who thinks Biden is actually president.-And if their agenda makes climate change accelerate, or causes nuclear war with China, then it will turn out the way they want. They will be in paradise with their God while the rest of us communist-heathens and liberals will burn in Hell for trying to help poor people and wanting to take tax cuts and guns away from the chosen people.

So, I don’t actually know what God wants in these crazy times. But there are people who insist that they do. And it is messy and painful. And I sincerely hope they are wrong.

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Go and Catch a Falling Star…

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.

Challenge accepted!

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.

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Ah! The Funny Face!

To celebrate the funny face, you really have to smile.

The goofy look, the bizarre expression, that lingers for a while.

Have a face that’s funny? It really is a gift.

To look for happy people, use the chuckle-sound to sift.

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Filed under artwork, cartoons, cartoony Paffooney, goofiness, humor, Paffooney

Mickian Fantasy Art

There is a reason why anything in my artwork starting with a rabbit is assumed to be autobiographical. I raised rabbits as a 4-H project from about the age of 10 and we kept rabbits in pens until I was finishing my undergraduate degree. (Rabbit chores fell to my little brother when I was away from home.) In many ways, I was a rabbit-man. My personal avatar as a school teacher was Reluctant Rabbit.

The panda known as Mandy in my cartoon world is an avatar of my wife, an immigrant from the Pandalore Islands.

There is often an exaggerated sense of adventure in my cartoonally weird Paffoonies, the very name of which is a fantasy word.

I have been known to actually believe gingerbread can be magical enough for gingerbread men to come to life once baked. It is the reason I bite the legs off first, so they can’t run away.

I have been known to see elves, fairies, and numerous other things that aren’t really there. In fact, a whole secret hidden kingdom of them inhabited the schoolyard in Iowa where I attended grades K through 6. They were all mostly three inches tall. The biggest ones, like dragons reaching only about six inches tall at their largest.

Of course I am afraid of death, evil, and… (shudder) mummies.
I think of art and story-telling as a form of music. I am a troubadour whose songs (like this one) are often completely silent.
My fantasy art tends to be more “comic book” than “art gallery”.

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