Category Archives: artwork

Really Odd Things are in the “Wrong File”

On my computer I keep a lot of picture files for inspiration both as an artist and a writer.  One of those files is labeled simply the “Wrong File”.  Everything in that picture file is in there for the wrong reason.  Or does a wrong file need to be filled with the wrong stuff for the right reason?  I don’t know.  There is a lot wrong with this world.  The fact that I am going to post stuff from the “Wrong File” is merely proof of that.

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Liking Grumpy Cat posts on Facebook is an oxymoron of the lowest order.  It is an example of what is wrong in the “Wrong File”.

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Certain puns are just so wrong in a fundamental way.  That’s right.  They are both fun and mental.  So that’s wrong.

 

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As an educator I am aware that this thing we thought was true is now an untrue fact.  That’s wrong also.  My left brain tells me so.  But my right brain tells me it feels right.

Yes, these things are wrong.  Just wrong.

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Why did I put this in here?  This is not wrong.  This is right.  So I must’ve put it in the wrong file.  So that’s all right, then.

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Putting this in a file my wife could find on my laptop… Yes, that was wrong.

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Saddle shoes have been wrong for many years now.  I still draw them on the feet of kids, especially girls, especially school-age girls, and that is especially especially wrong because it means I am just too old and out of fashion.’

Boy!  Is that wrong!

These things are all older than me, but I remember two of them.  Is that wrong?

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I’m not sure I believe this is wrong.  So is that wrong?  To believe that it is right, I mean?  I’m probably wrong.

 

 

988289_10201821431282097_1326790710_nMy wife constantly tells me I am wrong… about everything.  And I probably am.  So that is not right.  And if you think that’s my wife in the picture, you would be wrong.  She’s much larger than that in real life.

And many people find surrealism is wrong.  Surreal is when you put wrong things together on purpose to make something that almost seems right.

So that’s what odd about the “Wrong File”,  It is so wrong that it is right.

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The Waning of September

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The pool removal has finally begun.  As I write this, I can hear the machinery grinding away at the gunite.  And so, September has almost ended.  It has not been a good time.

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The world has been filled with the fetid orange-faced swamp monster in charge of our nightmare future raging against football players while an Asian nuclear baby Godzilla trades insults and threats of Armageddon with him as the sideshow.  My health has been seriously threatened by chest pains and breathing difficulties made worse by all the stress brought on by my battles with the city over the pool.  How many more years of this can the world actually withstand? How many more can I hold on to life and love and laughter?

But it is not over yet.  I can still write.  I can still laugh.  I can still make goofy WordPress posts with autumn leaves and regal fritillary butterflies to make me feel better.  And I can still put together novels that make stories worth telling.  That is enough for the moment.

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Mickey Makes Manga Art

I always loved this song.  When I was a boy, it was the song I would sing when I was alone in the darkness.  It made me feel better, able to march toward home in spite of potential spooks and brain-eating zombies.  The weight of the invisible future world could not drag me down if this tune was in my head, filling it with helium and good spirit; it allowed me to fly.

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And when I listened to it playing on the radio…  I always paused and listened to at least a couple of verses no matter what I was doing… I never once thought of Johnny Nash as a black man.  I didn’t know he was black until I first saw a picture of him.  But even then I didn’t think, “Oh, he’s a black man.”  I thought, “Oh, he’s a man like me.”  But, I, of course, am not black.  I’m not really white either.  I am a kind of pale pink to mauve mottled color with dark pink psoriasis spots in random places all over me. It is the man on the inside that is like Johnny Nash, full of uplifting things, and goofy grins, and… hopefully, hope.

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But when I was young it wasn’t only singing “I Can See Clearly Now…” in my goofy farmboy voice that filled my head with air and allowed me to float away from the troubles of the world.  I also learned to draw Manga style, in the tradition of Osamu Tezuka’s Astroboy , filtered through hours of practice copying Walt Kelly’s Pogo characters and various Disney cartoons.

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I copied the over-large eyes and big-headed cutsieness that informed the Japanese idea of the world after the atom bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  I tried to capture innocence and wonder and adventure in drawings that took my mind off the terrible things of my childhood, being sexually assaulted, the assassinations of JFK and his brother RFK, and Martin Luther King Jr, the Viet Nam War, and Nixon with Watergate.  You can reclaim innocence and peace of mind, if you get the lines just right, and the proportions are good, and the character has just the right expression on their sweet little faces.

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Okay, maybe not always so sweet and innocent.  This is not the Dorothy I would want to mess with.  This girl is cocky, sure of herself, and more than a little impish.  A destroyer of wicked witches, that one.

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But that’s what Manga Art is all about.  You whistle away the darkness one drawing at a time.  And there’s plenty of darkness to whistle away anymore, isn’t there?  What with Tronald Dump taking on the NFL over the American Flag and National Anthem, Tronald Dump taking on Jim Kong Oon in an insult war backed up by ICBMs, and Congress busily trying to take away all our access to health care.  (I know I misspelled some names there, but I am tired of talking about that guy that Dorothy told me I should call the “orange-faced poop sack.”  No, Dorothy, I can’t call him that.  Using language like that robs my head of its helium.)  So, what do I do now about the state of the world?  Well, here is the Manga Art I drew last night.

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Catgirl and White-haired Snow White with a ping pong ball in her mouth.

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The Secret Behind Poetry (a Poem about Poems)

Poetry is life

Like life, it is sometimes fat and over-gorged

Like life, it is sometimes lean and starving

Like life, it sometimes rhymes

But that is only simile

Simile is not reality

Reality is metaphor

Metaphor is life

Like life, it has to mean something

Like life, it has rhythm, pace, and resonance

Like life, it sometimes rhymes

But this one doesn’t rhyme

And it may not really mean something

And it certainly isn’t reality

So, poet, you don’t know life!

And life is poetry

So you really don’t know poetry

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Fauns

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Fauns originate in Greek mythology as forest spirits, sensual, playful, and infused with the energies of the natural world.  They are followers of Pan, the god of the forest.  They are hedonistic, seeking sexual gratification from nymphs and human girls, loving wine and feasting.  They are not the same things as satyrs, though Roman mythology would come along and squeeze them both into the same mold.

So, why am I, a boy from Iowa of distinctly German ancestry, so fascinated and obsessed by fauns in art and literature?

The answer is both goofy and creepy.  I have a faun of my own.  He lives with me as an invisible friend.  His name is Radasha.  He is Harvey to my Elwood.  (That’s a Jimmy Stewart movie reference if the twists and turns of my mind confuse you.)  Just like the fauns of mythology when confronted with travelers and wanderers, he sometimes helps with guidance and advice, and he sometimes does me mischief with ridicule and wicked tricks.

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My theory for why my convoluted psyche has need of invisible companions goes back to the fact that I was sexually assaulted when I was ten.  That is why Ra is basically a ten-year-old boy with the legs, tail, and horns of a goat.  He is the sexual/sensual part of me that got split off from my inner self by that traumatizing event.

Being a child-victim can do terrible things to a boy.  It seriously interfered with my blossoming interest in girls.  It turned me from an inventive, out-going leader of the gang into a quiet and somewhat timid introvert.  I repressed the memory of the actual event, more of a torture-situation than seduction, so that the real psychological damage of it occurred at the subconscious level.  I began to worry that I might be gay.  I began to seriously loathe myself and my own body.  I went so far as to burn myself on my lower back by lying against the furnace grate in order to repress desires I felt were evil.’

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Radasha showed up at my bedroom window late one snowy night when I was about seventeen years old.  He began talking at me, making fun of me for being terrified of girls, and encouraging me to risk being naked more.  He wanted me to enjoy the idea of sex more and shy away from it less.  In some ways, he kept that part of me alive.

Of course, I made myself familiar with the mythological creature Radasha obviously was.  I read everything I could about it.  I even acquired a copy of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Marble Faun and read it with great fascination even though the prose was dense and archaic.  I realized that I wasn’t alone in using fauns as an artistic expression of the repressed sensuality that constantly consumed me.  Ra was there to needle me and encourage me, to lead me to learn how to better like myself.

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I know by now most readers will have given up on this post already, put off by bizarre self-analysis of my rather atypical case of abnormal psychology.  But being naked more is apparently part of faun-therapy.  At Ra’s insistence, I am making myself more psychologically and metaphorically naked by revealing these things here in a blog that mostly nobody reads anyway.  And naked fauns in my artwork are a definite thing that merits exploration.  So if you have actually read this far through this mythological mold spore of an essay, you now know about as much about me as I know about myself.  And you will probably do just as I do.  You will shake your head and continue to wonder how any one old guy can be quite so weird.

 

 

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D&D the Robert E. Howard Way

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The idea for this post is to illustrate with covers from my own collection of books and comics.

Robert E. Howard, for those of you who like the stories but never look for the name of the author, is the young Texan who created Conan the Barbarian.  I say “young” because, although he was born in 1906, he died in 1936 at the age of 30.  And this young man created not only the iconic hero of the epic sword and sorcery genre of fiction, but basically founded the genre itself.  He definitely laid down the basics of it as a pattern for all others to follow.  Including the players of the sword and sorcery Dungeons and Dragons game.

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For D & D players the primary influence of all this is the Conan method of problem-solving.  “If you are confronted with a complex problem, a life and death problem, whack it with a sword until the problem is solved.”  This is the source of fascination for players with the fighter character; the warrior, the paladin, the knight, or the barbarian.  Superior physical prowess gives the individual control over so much more than he or she could ever be in control of in real life.  (And stop making that face while reading this.  Girls do play Dungeons and Dragons too.  I’ve seen it happen in school and with my own daughter.)

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And for the story-teller, also known as the game master or dungeon master, this can be a very good thing.  The sense of power  extremely high strength and endurance scores provide get the character strongly addicted to the hack and slash style of play, allowing you to teach all kinds of timely morals to the story about the need to use your brain and your creativity once in a while as well.

Conan was a brute and a slayer.  But he is perceived as a good guy because he was also capable of standing up for the little guy, righting wrongs and protecting others from powerful evils.  Conan had empathy, if not love, for others, and exhibited truly magnificent levels of the power to sacrifice self for the good of others and the general well-being of the weak.   As game master, all you need to do is add a vulnerable character to the party that needs some protecting in the fantasy game world.  It helps if that character has a good sense of humor, useful knowledge to offer, or cuteness to offer in return for the protection.  But even that is not required.  D & D players learn to wield power in ways that benefit others.  The Spiderman thing, you know; “With great power comes great responsibility.”  It is a lesson about life that many non-D & D players also really need to learn in their youth.

The Robert E. Howard way does not always work out so well for wizards.  Conan hated magic and wizards.  He whacked wizards even harder than he did other bad guys.  But that is generally assumed to apply to evil wizards.  Conan sometimes appreciated having a wizard on his side.

But the basic conclusion is this; there is a brutal, barbarian way to handle problems in real life as well as in Dungeons and Dragons life.  And it would be much better for everyone if people learned the right way and the wrong way to use it in the game world before the choice has to be made in the real world.

 

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Mickey Being Mickey

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A new day dawns.  It leaves me wondering.  Who am I today?  Who will I be tomorrow?

The opportunity to have any sort of control over who and what I am is coming to a close.  I don’t really know how much longer I have before pain and illness dissolve me into nothingness.  But death is not the end of existence. I may be forgotten totally by the day after next Thursday, but my existence will still have become a permanent fact.  Yes, I am one of those dopey-derfy-think-too-much types known as an existentialist.

I am feeling ill again.  Any time that happens may be the last time.  But that doesn’t worry me.

 

 

The important thing is that the dance continues.  It doesn’t matter who the dancers are, or who supplies the music.

We can be clowns if we choose to be.

We can safely be fools if we really can’t help it.

An awful lot of awful things go into who and what we are.  Those things make us full of awe.  They make us awesome.  Aw, shucks.  What an awful thing to say.

 

But what is all this stuff and nonsense really about today?

It’s just Mickey being Mickey… Mickey for another day.

It’s not really poetry.  It certainly isn’t wisdom.  It’s a little bit funny, and only mildly depressing… for a change.

It’s just Mickey being Mickey.  And a partially Paffooney gallery.

…To fill some space today.

And wonder about tomorrow.

And just be Mickey a little bit more.

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