Category Archives: commentary

Thinking About Another Birthday

I was born in a blizzard during the middle of the 1950’s. Dwight Eisenhower was President of the United States. John F. Kennedy had written the book Profiles in Courage. Elvis Presley was pushing Rock and Roll to new heights. My father was a Korean War veteran who served in the Navy aboard aircraft carriers. My mother was a registered nurse. And all of that made me a Baby Boomer, a Midwestern child of the middle class, benefiting from Roosevelt’s New Deal, more than a decade of economic boom, and I was in many ways truly blessed.

I think the Baby Boomer generation has a lot to answer for. As a group we have not taken our blessings for what they truly are and selfishly did not give back as much as we were given. Self-sacrifice and service were considered unintelligent things to pursue. Wealth and power were the things universally pursued. And averting climate disaster fell within our power. And we didn’t do nothing to help the problem. We actively made matters worse.

Hopefully, however, we have more than our share of people who followed the kind of path I did. I chose teaching as the way to serve my society and my country. I put in over thirty years working with kids, teaching them to read and write and helping them to transform from children into young adults. And I did it in spite of the fact that investment culture and the drive to earn massive wealth tended to make people look down on teachers. We didn’t get the respect and the monetary rewards that we actually deserved. I don’t have to feel dissatisfied with my role. But I do regret the consequences we face because of it. If you denigrate teachers and education in general, you are going to raise a generation of stupid people.

So, let me give you what little wisdom I have gained in the struggle of my 63 years on this less-than-perfect planet.

The only wisdom I can offer that I am absolutely certain of is this, I am basically a fool muddling my way through the labyrinth the best way that I can. We are all fools. And those that don’t admit that do me the favor of proving there are bigger fools than me.

The current President of the United States is a criminal. Even a fool like me can see it. He needs to be removed and the people who have enabled him need to be voted out.

He may, however, survive it. He may even win another four years. After all, the foxes have been running the hen-house for years now. And the party in charge cheats at election time.

We may have flubbed our stewardship of the planet so badly that all life on Earth will be wiped out by atmospheric changes. Fossil fuel corporations have won a Pyrrhic victory.

But even if we have no future as a species, our lives have been valuable. Every child is born good and loving and worthy of love. And even though some are too soon taught evil ways or too soon robbed of their birthright, the story of the human race is a good one. We did great things. We took serious dilemmas and solved them. We wrote good morals, and more often than not, we finished writing the sentence of our lives correctly. We had a right to be here. And even if our collective candle flame goes out, the brief time that it was shining made the universe a brighter place.

I am a pessimist by nature. I don’t expect to survive until another birthday passes. I didn’t expect to reach this one alive. If I do, I have a right to be both pleased and amazed. I can make no promises for the future. But I do know this, everything in the past was worth it.

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Filed under autobiography, birthdays, commentary, compassion, happiness, insight, inspiration, philosophy, soliloquy, strange and wonderful ideas about life

A Frosty Full Moon in a Pink Dawn Sky

Under the Full Moon

The air is cold in the age of old.

We’re no longer brave, in the moonlight wave.

Day has ended, night impended,

And darkest dawn looms for the faun.

We cannot wake with a sudden shake.

Our sacred lore responds no more.

Silence abounds on the frosty ground.

And the final score has left us poor.

A more reasonable paragraph;

I am not, at this writing, feeling very spry anymore. I substituted for an ESL teacher in Irving yesterday. I enjoyed it. But the frosty cold weather took its toll on me, as did the misbehavior of clownish 11th graders. I am left exhausted, and thoroughly convinced that huge high school classes averaging thirty kids in them are not something I am well enough to deal with anymore. I probably need to decide against taking any future high school sub jobs. They make me deathly tired and inspire creepy poetry about mortality in me. Anyway, it caused me to do some picture-making, and some silly poetical complaining.

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Filed under commentary, Paffooney, poem

The Dragon Within My Writing

The Chinese Dragon that I have drawn for today is a part of the planned cover illustration for my work in progress, The Boy… Forever.

But it is also more than that. The villain of the story claims to be a dragon in human form. And even though this may be a metaphor-like lie, it is an apropos symbol of the underlying conflict that informs almost all of my work. There is always, it seems, a hidden evil that is far more dangerous and life-consuming than it portrays itself as. The blizzard in Snow Babies, the real werewolf, the murderer, in The Baby Werewolf, suicidal depression in When the Captain Came Calling and Sing Sad Songs, and the serial killer in both Sing Sad Songs and Fools and Their Toys all kill other characters in my stories. They all bear the stamp of the evil dragon, magically powerful and dangerous in ways that guns alone cannot protect you from. They are evils embedded in human nature. They are the dragon that the White Knight of the story must defeat.

So, I show you this dragon today as a way of acknowledging my own dragons that must be fought.

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Filed under artwork, commentary, humor, metaphor, monsters, novel plans, Paffooney

…and Drift Away

Sometimes we need to get lost in the music of our lives and simply drift away.

My favorite baseball team won their division this year. And in the first round of the playoffs, well, they won the first game and lost the next two. They are not dead yet, but close… Will it be a matter of life and death for me? No. I have seen the Cardinals win the World Series four times in my life. I saw the Blues win their first Stanley Cup this year. I have even seen the hapless football Cardinals play in the Superbowl against the Steelers, and almost win, but lose in the final minute. Wow! I am fully satisfied. And my love has been requited. I can get lost in the song… and drift away.

Truthfully, I never thought that I would be able to teach again when I retired from the job I loved. Yet, the need for supplemental income was forcing me to work again. And as an Uber driver, I was risking my sanity and my life to make… well, not enough money. But now, I am going back to schools as a substitute teacher. The orientation for the CFBISD schools will be this coming Wednesday. And after I attend that, I can go back to classrooms and earn money by teaching, when I can. I don’t have to go in and work every day. I can pick and choose. So, times of illness are not a big whoop. Money worries are now dissolving a bit… and I can drift away.

In my writing quest, I have published all the books I identified as the ones I most needed to publish. I will soon be making the Kindle version of Sing Sad Songs free to click on and own via Amazon. I definitely have more stories to tell and more books in me, but if I died today, putting my stories out there in the world… I am satisfied with what I have already done. I am ready to let go, and get caught up in the never-ending song… and drift away.

So, what is this post actually saying? I love the song. And like the song says, the world out there is hard to live with. But if you give me the beat to free my soul… I can drift away. I am at peace. Life has been good.

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Filed under autobiography, commentary, humor, music, photo paffoonies

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

Under Pressure

As a new week begins and a new month begins tomorrow, I admit, I have been under pressure. But now the monsters are temporarily under control, either beaten back, or caged.

As you can see here, I have tightened up the cover design for part two of my novel re-write AeroQuest. The work on that has picked up pace. And the pressure is off because I have already completed and published the novels most essential to my writing life to finish before I die. But there is still the pressure to produce more.

My health has reached a point where immediate worries of death have been pushed back enough that the pressure is off. At least for now. My heart is still pumping properly in spite of the 2017 heart-attack scare. I still can’t afford insulin for diabetes, but careful attention to diet is still reducing the times I have to take to my bed all day due to high blood sugar. I have taken positive steps to secure a position as a substitute teacher in the local district. After next Tuesday I may actually be back in classrooms again, doing what I was born to do. Yes, I mean babysitting middle-school monkey-house denizens. I love it, and I have missed it. You may have noticed (if you’ve looked at any of my novels) that all my books are about school kids. Old teachers never die. They just lose all their class.

Money worries have loosened their grip on my heartbeat as well. Texas legislators were turned more friendly to teachers and retired teachers by the Blue Wave election of 2018. I got a healthy cost-of-living increase paid to me in September. I got a refund of a tax penalty that I paid to the IRS and didn’t actually owe. I was able to buy the new prescription glasses that I have needed since last January and wasn’t able to afford until now. I can actually see again.

And, assuming I can actually teach again, money will be coming in as a substitute. And when I don’t feel well enough to teach, I don’t have to.

The thing is, I will still be preparing for future bad turns of fortune. Good times never last for long. And I am naturally a pessimist. But even though I will always be living under pressure, that is not a bad thing. The fire in the forge tempers the metal as it is hammered. And in that metaphor I find my strength.

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Filed under commentary, feeling sorry for myself, humor, novel writing, Paffooney

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th is a bad luck day… for superstitious and stupid people. Of course, it is never a good day if you are truly stupid.

I had a bad week last week with all the toilet explosions and the car accident and my daughter’s epic lost-ID freak out.

Today could not possibly get worse than the week prior.

Except that it could. I am now in bed ill with a slight fever and a probable sinus infection.

But I will not blame it on superstition. The stupidity was all mine.

The toilet repair went so badly because I was trying to match really out-dated metal plumbing parts with modern plastic cheap stuff and PVC. Nothing matches, nothing fits, I had to piece together a jury-rigged repair with putty and tape and as much ingenuity as my stupid little brain could manufacture.

It’s not as if I can write my way out of my house-repair woes, or my physical ailments and short-comings. I might be able to make a dent in the stupidity factor by means of this essay. But can a collection of paragraphs ever really cure being stupid? The natural state of all mankind?

The car accident was not my fault. I was hit from behind going around the corner by a motorist who did not stay in his own lane of traffic. And I didn’t suffer any real visible damage. We didn’t call a cop for an accident report. My diabetic blood-sugar drop didn’t kill me. So, I guess everything is all right. But stupidly, I am probably allowing my insurance rates to go up because of another accident that was not my fault. And the blood-sugar drop probably lowered my immune system’s defenses during the height of pollen season and the beginning of flu season.

Of course, I am sure you know that Friday the 13th is historically not an ordinary day. You can Google up the information on it’s connection to Jesus’s last supper (13 people gathered on the 13th of Nisan the night before Jesus was crucified on Good Friday.) Or what the King of France did to the Knights Templar on a Friday the 13th. But that is all irrelevant to me, as I am not superstitious, only guilty of some measure of stupidity.

I told my daughter during the heat of her meltdown that we would soon be able to laugh about the whole bad week. Well, what better day to begin the chuckles than Friday the 13th?

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhhaaaaaa!

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Filed under commentary, feeling sorry for myself, foolishness, humor, illness, Paffooney, pessimism