Category Archives: autobiography

Mickey’s Secret Identities

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Yes, there is very definitely a possibility that there is more than one me.

If you look carefully at the colored pencil drawing above, you will see that it is titled “The Wizard of Edo” and signed by someone called Leah Cim Reyeb.  A sinister sounding Asian name, you think?  I told college friends that my research uncovered the fact that he was an Etruscan artist who started his art career more than two thousand years ago in a cave in France.  But, of course, if you are clever enough to read the name backward, you get, “beyeR miC haeL”.  So, that stupid Etruscan cave artist is actually me.

It turns out that it is a conceit about signing my name as an artist that I stole from an old episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show and have used for well over two decades through college and my teaching career.

And of course, the cartoonist me is Mickey.  Mickey also writes this blog.  Mickey is the humorist identity that I use to write all my published novels and blog posts since I published the novel Catch a Falling Star.

Michael Beyer is the truest form of my secret identity.  That was my teacher name.  It was often simplified by students to simply “Mr. B”.  I was known by that secret identity for 31 years.

Even more sinister are my various fictional identities occurring in my art and my fiction.  You see one of them in this Paffooney.  The name Dr. Seabreez appears in Catch a Falling Star as the Engineer who makes a steam engine train fly into space in the 1890’s with alien technology.  He appears again in The Bicycle-Wheel Genius as a time-traveler.

The young writer in the novel Superchicken, Branch Macmillan, is also me.  As is the English teacher Lawrance “Rance” Kellogg used in multiple novels.

So, disturbing as it may be to realize, there is more than one name and identity that signifies me.  But if you are a writer of fiction, a cartoonist, an artist, or a poet, you will probably understand this idea better.  And you may even have more than one you too.

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Filed under autobiography, foolishness, humor, irony, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Predictions Using Mickey Math

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Mickeys are by their nature pessimists.  When mostly bad things happen to you in your life, you learn not to expect good things, only be pleasantly surprised by them.  And bad things happen only when you are prepared for them if you are expecting only bad things to happen.  In fact, the bad outcome will probably seem good in comparison to the terrible thing you were planning on happening to you.

For example, my car is in the shop being fixed for accident damage that prevented me from earning extra money through Uber for a month and a half.  I was told on Thursday that the car doors were fixed and it was in the paint shop.  It was possible I was going to get it back Friday afternoon.  I was not upset or surprised that I never got the call Friday.  In fact, I fully expected somebody had dropped the car off a lift or painted it neon puce or something and that it will take another two weeks to fix the new damage.  So if it turns out to be ready tomorrow, which I sincerely don’t expect due to Mickey Math, I will still be pleasantly surprised.  I might even go into happy shock.  After all, I clearly remember one time watching a tow truck operator load my malfunctioning car onto a flatbed tow truck, only to see it roll off the front of the truck to further damage it because he had not properly secured it.  That yielded happy shock because the body shop owner who also owned the tow truck ended up repairing my car for free.

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What is the science behind Mickey Math, you say?  Oh, you didn’t say anything?  Well, I will tell you anyway.  In a world where 2 + 2 = 4, if Mickey desperately needs the answer to always be at least 4, you can be certain by experimental proof and past experience that it will surely come out as 2 + 2 = 3.  Life and physics always disappoint Mickey one way or another.  So the science tells Mickey to always be prepared for the worst.

That being said, here are some predictions for the near future figured out via Mickey Math.

  • Since Trump’s tax cut last year retro-actively re-figured withholding deductions on my pension and I owed $1300 in tax penalties for 2017, I will surely pay twice as much in additional penalties this year in spite of the letter from last December telling me readjustments were being made for 2018.
  • Trump is in all kinds of legal peril and the scandals of his presidency will probably lead to the Republican loss of control in Congress.  Therefore the Republican Party will have a governmental coupe (in case Russia fails to swing the elections to them) which seizes absolute power for them and makes Trump President for life.
  • If hurricanes don’t wipe Texas as clean as a marble tabletop, then we will experience our first day of 200-degree temperatures in early January.
  • The baseball Cardinals will not make the playoffs, and the football Cardinals will return to having endless losing seasons.
  • Termites will eat our entire house, and mosquitoes will drink every last drop of my blood.

Now, it is quite possible that things will fall short of most of these dire predictions, but that is how Mickey Math secures happiness from a miserable life.

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Filed under angry rant, autobiography, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, humor, Paffooney, pessimism, self pity

Telling Teacher Stories

My Art

Here’s a secret that is only a secret if you are one of the well-over-six-billion people that don’t know I exist; I loved being a public school teacher.  I taught for 31 years.  24 years of that was in middle school.  I taught more than 1000 different seventh graders.  And I loved it.

Please don’t reveal this secret to any mental health professionals.  I like my freedom.  And I am really not dangerous even after teaching that many seventh graders.  I promise.

But it has left me with a compulsion.  I confess it is the reason I write humorous young adult novels and why I continue to write this blog.  I have to tell teacher stories or I will surely explode.

I have to tell you not only about the normal kids I taught, but the super-brainy mega-nerds I taught, the relatively stupid kids I taught, the honor students, the autistic kids, the kids who loved to sleep in class, the classroom clowns that tried to keep them awake, the kids who loved my class, the kids who hated my class, the times I was a really stupid teacher, the times I achieved some real milestones for some wonderful kids, the kids I still love to this day, the kids I tried really hard to love, but…. (well, some kids not even a mother could love), the drug dealers I had to protect my class from, the kids who talked to me about suicide and abuse and horrible things that still make me cry, the kids I lost along the way, and, well, the list goes on and on but this is an epic run-on sentence and the English teacher inside me is screaming at the moment.

You get the idea.  Like most writers… real writers, not hacks and wannabees, I write because I have to.  I don’t have a choice.  No matter what it costs me.  And what do I have to talk about in writing except being a school teacher and the almost infinite lessons that experience taught me?

I loved being the rabbit holding the big pencil in the front of the classroom.  And that metaphor means, as crazy as it sounds, I loved being a teacher.

 

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Filed under autobiography, commentary, education, humor, kids, Paffooney, teaching

Mickey Notes

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Sometimes a Mickey needs to take stock of where he is, where he is going, and what is going on in the world around him.  I think this Mickey needs to make a list of bullet points and hope like hell that nobody gets shot.

  • Mickey is old.  At 61-and-a-half he has six incurable diseases and has been a cancer survivor since 1983.  In modern America, he can no longer afford medicines like insulin that may be necessary to stay alive.  After paying out thousands of dollars in hospital bills and doctor bills, he’s gone bankrupt and probably will not go to the doctor the next time he needs to.  So Mickey is probably right in considering himself temporary at best.
  • The diseases referred to are diabetes, arthritis, COPD, psoriasis, hypertension, and BPH.  No laughing matter, Mickey knows, but not really a crying matter either.  If the economy and the system of government don’t allow you to get real, necessary health care, well… laughter is the best medicine, isn’t it?  And eating right, as much as you can afford to do it, counts for something.
  • Mickey’s car is in the shop.  The goofer who rammed into the driver’s side door in the rain is definitely at fault in the accident.  His insurance, however, holds Mickey 85% responsible because he didn’t have his lights on (although I am pretty sure he did) even though it was almost noon and headlights weren’t strictly necessary in what was merely a light rain.
  • The doors on Mickey’s car won’t open until both of them and the column between them, are both replaced.  So, Mickey is stuck borrowing his nephew’s red car which has a dying battery, mysterious rumbling engine indigestion, and a cracked windshield.
  • Mickey has six good novels published; Catch a Falling Star, Stardusters and Space Lizards, Superchicken, Snow Babies, Magical Miss Morgan, and The Bicycle-Wheel Genius.
  • Mickey also has two completed manuscripts awaiting revision, editing, and publication;  Recipes for Gingerbread Children and The Baby Werewolf.
  • And Mickey has reached 100 pages and 34,000 words on his current manuscript; Sing Sad Songs.
  • It should be obvious, then, that Mickey intends to write fictions furiously until he drops dead.  Mickey hopes that you don’t hope that he will drop dead sooner rather than later.  He promises that his fictions aren’t that bad.
  • Mickey has decided not to waste any more time making fun of the current criminal in the White House.  That problem really seems to be coming to an end on its own.
  • It is probably also obvious that Mickey has been transforming his Paffoonies from grayish photographishes into clear and bright scannishes… er… scans.
  • And when Mickey writes Mickey Notes, he always intends to write something different than it turns out he has really written as he gets closer to 500 words and the end of the essay.
  • Oh, well, Mickey knows how it goes, I suppose, and so he is now done writing Mickey Notes… for today.

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Filed under autobiography, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, Mickey, Paffooney, self pity

I’m a Kangaroo Kid

Bob Keeshan, better known as Captain Kangaroo, would not like my title.  He wanted them to be referred to as “children” not “kids”.  The reasons were obvious.  “Kid” refers to a baby goat.  It’s all about the words.  It’s all about respect and propriety.

4e087cfa232cf.image But Bob Keeshan, though a TV personality, was much more of a teacher than anything else.  His show went on air before I was born, and I don’t remember a moment in my childhood that he wasn’t a part of it.  He was like Mr. Rogers, but came into our lives even before Fred Rogers appeared on the scene.  I watched the show in the mornings before school started, at a time when I walked all the way across our little Iowa farm town to get to school.  He taught me important early lessons in life that were just as impactful as the math and language and social skills I was getting later in the day.  Of course, I had to leave home for school before the show ended at 8:00 a,m. But just like school, watching and participating in any part of it was capable of teaching you something good.

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A lot of what I was able to do successfully as a teacher is a result of how Captain Kangaroo taught me.  He taught me to deliver information in small bites that a young learner with a short attention span could fully digest.  He taught me how to capture attention.  He did it with puppets, a moose, a bunny, and a dancing bear all thanks to Cosmo Allegretti, a versatile and multi-talented performer.  He could focus attention by letting Mr. Moose drop ping pong balls on his head.  Whatever came next after the moment of mirth was something I paid attention to.

He also helped us learn science.  Mr. Greenjeans in his low-key, deadpan way would teach us about eating vegetables, how farmers cultivate plants, and how to handle various small animals like kittens, rabbits, and even ferrets.  Mr. Greenjeans got seriously bitten by a lion cub on camera.  He simply stuck his bleeding finger in his pocket and went on with the show.  Yes, the man was a veteran in more ways than one.  (He was a Marine in WWII.)

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And Captain Kangaroo taught me how to share a book.  I became very good at reading aloud to students because Bob Keeshan and the crew that worked for him showed me how to read with expression, separate dialogue from narration, and build the excitement with pace and voice modulation.  They were experts at reading aloud.

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So, I say this with no disrespect, only veneration.  “I am a Kangaroo kid.”  I watched the show and internalized it.  I developed deep pockets like the ones in Bob Keeshan’s jacket that gave him the name Captain Kangaroo, and I stored many treasures from the Treasure House there that I would later share with my students.

 

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Filed under art criticism, artists I admire, autobiography, clowns, education, heroes, humor, reading, review of television, TV as literature

Scary Uber Stories

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After driving for 45 minutes today, I discovered that I had earned only $4.16.  And this after having the air conditioning give out once, having the engine overheat twice, and having to change which direction I searched for building number 210 three times before I found the guy’s second-floor apartment and delivered his 40 chicken nuggets and two large orders of McDonald’s fries.  Normally when it takes that long to deliver food over more than 10 miles of city driving you make more for the effort.  But they don’t start paying you until you pick up the food, and from home to Ronald’s place in Irving, Texas was easily eight of the ten miles.

Really scary story, huh?

But that’s what Uber driving is like.  It is benign sort of slavery where you use your own car and gas money, your own car insurance to protect you from Texas Bubbas in Chevy pickups, and your own wits to survive and deliver hot food in the punishing Texas summer heat.

meethxx234569The worst experience I got from this summer’s food delivery came at the hands of a fellow school teacher.  I had to deliver faculty lunch to an elementary school in the last week of summer school classes.  It was a large lunch with two bags of burgers and a tray loaded with drinks in flimsy cardboard cups.  It was a short drive from the restaurant to the school.  But when I got there, it was a school with many entrances and kids playing on two different sides of the building.  I went to the door I thought the Uber navigator was directing me to.  I knocked.  When I got no answer, I called the lady who ordered everything.  I told her I was at the west door.  She told me that I had to find the main door on the south side of the building.  So I managed to juggle the two sacks and the easily spillable drinks to three different doors on the south side, all locked.  I called again and was told I must have the wrong building, so I went to the school building across the street and found an office building with only kindergarten and daycare kids present.  I called again.

“How can you mess it up so badly?  Our food will be cold and we have no time left to eat it.  And you are at the wrong building!  None of the other Uber drivers had this much trouble.”

So, after having been called an idiot, I quickly found a playground guardian to ask and was directed to the proper door on the NORTH side of the building.  I apologized and delivered the food.  She made complaints to Uber and told them that my behavior was unprofessional and the food was late.  So my job as an Uber driver was briefly in jeopardy.  I called the Uber driver masters and offered to refund my four-dollar fee to the customer to make amends.  They told me they appreciated the sentiment, but they NEVER give the money back.  So I went home grumbling, dripping gallons of sweat, four dollars richer and an hour’s worth of misery wiser.

I hope you appreciate that I waited four weeks to write this horror story.  It was the only way I could write it without profanity or bad words.

 

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Filed under angry rant, autobiography, humor, Paffooney, photo paffoonies

Computer Woes

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For the last week and a half, I have been visiting my parents in Iowa.  That came to an end on Monday with a fourteen-hour drive back to the Dallas suburbs.  That should have been a normal enough thing.  I have made that trip two ways over a hundred times in the years I have been living in Texas while still having family in Iowa.

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A mere car trip like that shouldn’t have had a major impact on my writing, this blog and my novel in progress neither one.

But, unfortunately, demons of a darker day had to have their say.  The computer that I have used to write six published novels and all of the blog posts I have written since 2013 died from battery depletion in the trunk of my car.  Of course, my pessimistic nature had made me purchase a backup laptop some time ago.  But it didn’t have Microsoft Office on it, nor any other word processor.  I also didn’t remember dozens of passwords for necessary writer websites, and email, and bank accounts, and on and on and on.  Needless to say, I have begun to write recently changed passwords down on paper somewhere secret.  …And will very likely forget promptly where I hid them.

So yesterday was wasted getting my entire life back up and running on the computer and online.  If you have been searching for my daily blog posts the last few days and finding that your search was fruitless, this is the reason why.  Of course, not all fruit is good for you. You should probably be getting fresher fruits and vegetables from better sources than the internet.  Although there are plenty of old Mickian blog posts out there now that have totally fermented and become somewhat unfortunately fragrant over time, today’s post is proof that I am still hopelessly addicted to writing and still not quite dead.

So, now that I am back up and running, expect more Mickian rants and colored pencil Paffoonies.  I have lost time to make up for.

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Filed under autobiography, humor, photo paffoonies