Category Archives: autobiography

Monster Mashing


One of the side “benefits” of having diabetes is that it often comes with an extra helping of diabetic depression.  I had the blues really bad this week.  I am not the only member of my family suffering.

So, what do you do about it?

Or, rather, what does a goofy idiot like me do about it?

Especially on a windy day when the air is saturated with pollen and other lovely things that I am absolutely, toxically allergic to?

Well, for one thing, I used the word toxically in this post because it is a funny-sounding adverb that I love to use even though the spell-checker hates it, no matter how I spell or misspell it.

And I bought a kite.

Yes, it is a cheap Walmart kite that has a picture of Superman on it that looks more like Superboy after taking too much kryptonite-based cough syrup for his own super allergies.

But I used to buy or make paper diamond kites just like this one when I was a boy in Iowa to battle the blues in windy spring weather.  One time I got one so high in the sky at my uncle’s east pasture that it was nothing more than a speck in the sky using two spools of string and one borrowed ball of yarn from my mother’s knitting basket.  It is a way of battling blue meanies.


And I bought more chocolate-covered peanuts.  The chocolate brings you up, and the peanut protein keeps you from crashing your blood sugar.  I have weathered more than one Blue Meanie attack with m&m’s peanuts.

And I used the 1957 Pink and White Mercury of Imagination to bring my novel, The Baby Werewolf, home.  I wrote the last chapter Monday night in the grip of dark depression, and writing something, and writing it well, makes me a little bit happier.

And I have collected a lot of naked pictures of nudists off Twitter.  Who knew that you could find and communicate with such a large number of naked-in-the-sunshine nuts on social media?  It is nice to find other nude-minded naturists in a place that I thought only had naked porn until I started blogging on naturist social media.  Being naked in mind and body makes me happier than I ever thought it would.

And besides being bare, I also like butterflies and books and baseball and birds, (the Cardinals have started baseball season remember) and the end of winter.  “I just remember of few of my favorite things, and then I don’t feel so bad!”  Oh, and I like musical movies like The Sound of Music too.

The monsters of deep, dark depression are being defeated as we speak.

Leave a comment

Filed under artwork, autobiography, battling depression, cardinals, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, imagination, nudes, Paffooney, photos, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Spring Break 2018


Dawn of March 14, 2018

Spring Break this year has quietly come and is now more than half over.  I have used the time to review and reorient.  A number of things have to change.   The Daylight Savings Time came in on the first weekend, so I have basically been sleeping late by following the same schedule I was the week before.  I will have to somehow adjust everything by an hour before next Monday.  I may be retired, but I still have kids in school and responsibilities that require following a schedule.

I re-read my novel Magical Miss Morgan, and I decided that if I had to make the mistake of using a vanity press again, at least I did it with a book worth the investment.  My book has made $0.43 since it’s release at the start of 2018.


I have started a lot of long-term projects this week.  I started the process of removing and replacing water-damaged carpets in the Princess’s bedroom and the family room.   I planted a flower bed in the bare ground where we once had a swimming pool.  I repaired the rake to start doing Spring yard-work again, then promptly broke it trying to rake up a winter’s worth of Texas live-oak leaves.  And I went back to painting miniatures again.  Last night my daughter and I spent time at the family room table, her sketching in her sketch book, and me painting HO-scale phone poles.  It was a good time to paint and talk over the important issues, like nightmares, binge-watching shows on Netflix, comic book history, and what we plan to do with our lives when we grow up. I am also working on the final two chapters of The Baby Werewolf this week. That makes nine books at a stage that can be considered to be at least at a “completed-and-almost-ready-to-publish” stage.

Three books are published via an evil publishing house.  Two more are self-published, and four are in manuscript form to be published as soon as editing and design is done through Amazon.

So, I still have an awful lot to do before I lie down and die.  And Spring Break is supposed to help with catching up, the way it always did when I was a teacher.   But this time it has merely added more things to do.  Ah, well…  I guess it’s what keeps me going.

Leave a comment

Filed under autobiography, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

A Mr. Holland Moment

Life is making music.  We hum, we sing to ourselves, movie music plays in our head as the soundtrack to our daily life. At least, it does if we stop for a moment and dare to listen.   We make music in many different ways.  Some play guitar.  Some are piano players.  And some of us are only player pianos.  Some of us make music by writing a themed paragraph like this one.  Others make an engine sing in the automotive shop.  Still others plant gardens and make flowers or tomatoes grow.  I chose teaching kids to read and write.  The music still swells in my ears four years after retiring.

The 1995 movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus, is about a musician who thinks he is going to write a magnificent classical orchestra opus while teaching music at a public high school to bring in money and allow him time to compose and be with his young wife as they start a new family.

But teaching is not, of course, what he thought it was.  He has to learn the hard way that it is not an easy thing to open up the closed little clam shells that are the minds of students and put music in.  You have to learn who they are as people first.  You have to learn to care about what goes on in their lives, and how the world around them makes them feel… and react to what you have to teach.  Mr. Holland has to learn to pull them into music appreciation using rock and roll and music they like to listen to, teaching them to understand the sparkles and beats and elements that make it up and can be found in all music throughout their lives.  They can even begin to find those things in classical music, and appreciate why it has taken hold of our attention for centuries.

And teaching is not easy.  You have to make sacrifices.  Big dreams, such as a magnum opus called “An American Symphony”, have to be put on the shelf until later.  You have children, and you find that parenting isn’t easy either.  Mr. Holland’s son is deaf and can never actually hear the music that his father writes from the center of his soul.  And the issue of the importance of what you have to teach becomes something you have to fight for.  Budget cuts and lack of funding cripples teachers in every field, especially if you teach the arts.  Principals don’t often appreciate the value of the life lessons you have to give.  Being in high school band doesn’t get you a high paying job later.

But in the end, at the climax of the movie, the students all come back to honor Mr. Holland.  They provide a public performance of his magnum opus, his life’s work.  And the movie ends with a feeling that it was all worth it, because what he built was eternal, and will be there long after the last note of his music is completely forgotten.  It is in the lives and loves and memories of his students, and they will pass it on.

But this post isn’t a movie review.  This post is about my movie, my music.  I was a teacher in the same way Mr. Holland was.  I learned the same lessons about being a teacher as he did.  I had the same struggles to learn to reach kids.  And my Mr. Holland moment wasn’t anywhere near as big and as loud as Mr. Holland’s.  His was performed on a stage in front of the whole school and alumni.  His won Richard Dreyfus an Academy Award for Best Actor.  But his was only fictional.

Mine was real.  It happened in a portable building on the Naaman Forest High School campus.  The students and the teacher in the classroom next door threw a surprise party for me.  They made a lot of food to share, almost all of which I couldn’t eat because of diabetes.  And they told me how much they would miss me, and that they would never forget me.  And I had promised myself I would never cry about having to retire.  But I broke my promise.  In fact, I am crying now four years later.  But they are not tears of sadness.  My masterwork has now reached its last, bitter-sweet notes.  The crescendos have all faded.  But the music of our lives will still keep playing.  And not even death can silence it completely.



Filed under artwork, autobiography, commentary, happiness, insight, kids, movie review, teaching



It is a difficult thing to be an atheist who believes in God.  Sometimes it takes an oxymoron to find the Truth.  And you often have to go heavily on the “moron” portion of the word.

The thing I find most distressing about faith is the fact that those who have it are absolutely convinced that if you don’t agree with them and whatever book of fairy tales they believe in and interpret for you, then you are not a True Believer and you do not have real Faith.


I remember being told by a Mormon girl in one of my classes that I was her all-time favorite teacher, but she was deeply distressed that, because of my religion (I professed to be a Jehovah’s Witness at the time) I was doomed to burn in Hell forever.

Hey, I was raised in Iowa.  I have experienced minus 100 degree Fahrenheit windchill.  I am among those who think a nice warm afterlife wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

But I am no longer actually a Jehovah’s Witness.  So I guess that helps with the whole Hell-burning thing.  The Witnesses are a religion that claims to understand the Bible is full of metaphorical truth, and yet insist that it is literally true.  They don’t believe in Hell, which, honestly, is not actually mentioned or explained in the Bible as we have it now.  But they do believe your prospects for eternal life on a paradise Earth are totally contingent on knocking on doors and telling other people that they must believe what you believe or experience eternal destruction.  I have stopped being an active Witness and knocking on doors because I got old and sick, and all the caring brothers and sisters in the congregation stopped coming around to visit because number one son joined the Marines, and the military is somehow evil hoodoo that cancels out any good you have done in the past.  Being a Jehovah’s Witness was really hard work with all the meetings (5 per week), Bible reading (I have read the entire Bible two and a half times), door-knocking, and praying, and you apparently can lose it all for saying, thinking, or doing one wrong thing.


According to the Baptist preachers, Jehovah’s Witness elders, religious zealots, and other opinionated religious people I have known and dealt with in my life, if I do not believe what they believe and agree with them in every detail, then I do not know God and am therefore an atheist.  So, okay, I guess I am.   If I have to be an atheist to believe whole-heartedly that everyone is entitled to sincerely believe whatever the hell they want to believe, then I’ll wear that label.

On a personal note, my favorite verse of the Bible has always been 1 John 4:8,  “He that does not love has not come to know God, because God is love.”  That is why I claim to be an atheist who believes in God.  I know love.  I love all men, women, children, animals, sunrises, artwork, paintings of angels by Bouguereau… everything that is.  And I even love you if you exercise your freedom to tell me, “Your ideas are totally wrong, and you are going to burn in Hell, Mickey, you bad guy, you!”  Mark Twain always said, “I would choose Heaven for climate, but I would prefer Hell for company.”  I am not going to worry about it.  I will be in good company.  Some things are just bigger than me.  And trying to control things like that is nonsense. Sorta like this post.


Filed under artists I admire, artwork, autobiography, finding love, foolishness, humor, philosophy, religion, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Messing Up With Mickey


The way I handle the computer tends to be the way I handle life as a whole.  Thirteen tabs open at the same time, eleven of them not responding, and me cussing the machine for not working properly.

Spring has come.  In fact, Spring Break has come.  My daughter the Princess and I were planning to plant flowers in the yard where the pool used to be.  We started work yesterday spreading compost on the flower bed and churning the soil.  But we should’ve done it sooner.  It was too much for tired muscles to finish yesterday.  Then the rains came last night.  It would’ve been perfect to plant the seeds yesterday, then have God water them naturally at night.  But plans don’t go anywhere near perfectly.  Thirteen tabs are open and twelve are not responding.

Torry2 (640x480)

In my novel, The Baby Werewolf, the murderer is now unmasked and he has started on his final killing spree.  But as I was supposed to write the next Canto the last two nights, I found myself overwhelmed and overtired.  I got no further writing done.  I vowed to do it tonight, but the time change has left me no less tired and overwhelmed.  Thirteen tabs not responding.

So here I sit, paralyzed by entropy and worriedly contemplating the eventual heat death of the universe.  What to do?  What to do?

Mickey’s inevitable answer… Mickey opens a new tab and keeps on writing.  Did you think he had an actual plan for the rest of his life?  Of course not.  He planned on retiring from teaching and writing for about three years, and then dropping dead from one of his six incurable diseases.  Guess what?  This June will be four complete years.  Who knows how many more?


Filed under artwork, autobiography, commentary, daughters, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney

Role-Playing Games in the Classroom


Zeus, the god of Storms and the Sky

In the early 90’s a fellow teacher became acutely aware of the effect the role-playing games I was playing at home after school had on the cognitive abilities of the fatherless boys I was constantly entertaining.  She suggested that maybe, if it was working at home with a few students and former students, it could also work in the classroom with all students.

This, of course was a daunting classroom activity to carry out, but enough of a creative challenge to my story telling abilities that I simply had to try.

I began with a cheap RPG book about adventuring D&D style with characters from Greek Myth.  This was an opportunity not only to play adventure games, but to teach a little bit about history and a lot about mythology.

So I created generic character sheets using my own personal copier, my own copy paper, and my own overhead projector plastic overlays.

I created adventures that could be conducted on the overhead with dice and each kid having their own set of skills and useful items.  We conducted Olympic games and included mythological creatures like Tritons and Centaurs as player characters.  We learned about the city of Olympia, the city of Argos, the city of Corinth, Athens, Sparta, and even Atlantis.

I let students draw their character from a hat on strips of paper that contained a boy option and a girl option.  I even let students trade for the character they wanted and we learned negotiating skills along with problem-solving skills.


                                                                                     Demeter, goddess of fertility (which you can’t say in a junior high classroom, so goddess of crops and farming.)

Most of the stories were driven by a kidnapping where the beautiful daughter of one of the players was kidnapped immediately after the Olympic medals were awarded.  The villain would take her to his evil island base, and the players would have to work together to buy or steal a boat.  Gods and goddesses could be called on to intervene, and sometimes they actually did.  Another story line began with the sack of Troy, during which the players either murder or witness the death of a young Trojan boy who just happens to be Heracles’ son.

That story took the players on a quest of penance to visit the underworld and retrieve the boy in the same way that Orpheus tried to rescue his lady love Eurydice.  Potentially, Heracles would even join the quest himself if none of the player characters were the actual killer.  And, of course, all sorts of encounters with monsters would ensue.



I ended up using about as much of my personal resources as a story-teller and a cartoonist to create those adventures as I had available.  But I had students tell me that the week of classroom time spent playing that problem-solving myth game was one of the most memorable learning experiences they ever had.  I never tried it with a high school class, only middle school, and then mostly with 7th graders.  But I think the experiment was very successful from about 1992 to 2004, and it taught me even more about teaching than it ever taught them about mythology.

Leave a comment

Filed under autobiography, Dungeons and Dragons, education, heroes, humor, Paffooney, pen and ink paffoonies, strange and wonderful ideas about life, teaching

Writing Myself To Life

Torry2 (640x480)

I have been working on my novel The Baby Werewolf, and I am now in the final phase, working on the climax and crisis point.  And I surprised myself.  The killer monologues to the main characters who have now become his intended next victims.  I have played this out over and over in the twenty-two years I have been writing this book.  Last night, for the first time ever, the hero character laughs in this scene instead of the cringing fear that had always been there before.

How is such a thing possible?  What changed?  I have been writing and rewriting this story since 1996.  But it goes much deeper and darker than that.  This story went on my have-to-write list in 1966 when an older, stronger boy who lived near my home trapped me in a place out-of-sight of others and stripped me, gaining some horrible kind of pleasure by inflicting pain on my private parts.  Recovery from that has taken half a century.  The recovery itself probably explains why I struggled so long to pull this story together in a finished form.


There are things about my writing life that are undeniable.  First of all, I have to write.  There is really no other choice for me.  My mind will never know rest or peace without being able to spin out the paragraphs and essays and stories that make it possible to know those things.  Nothing is real if I can’t write it out.  Secondly, I am a humorist.  If I can never be funny at all, can never write a joke, then I will descend into madness.  My sense of humor not only shields me and serves as my suit of armor, it heals me when I suffer psychic wounds.  This book is a horror story, but like many of the best horror stories, it relies on humor to drive every scene and knit the plot together.  And it was a breakthrough for me to have the hero character laugh instead of cringe in the critical scene.  It allows me to live again.  And love again.  And the real monster that caused this book to be, is now forgiven.  The world continues to turn.  The picture is now complete.  And soon, the novel will be too.


Leave a comment

Filed under autobiography, forgiveness, horror writing, humor, insight, inspiration, novel, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, writing, writing humor