Category Archives: commentary

Writing with Fire

The old saying goes, “If you play with fire, sooner or later you will get burned.”

But I am not playing. I am writing. With fire.

The criminal we elected president knows what I am talking about. He speaks at rallies with fire. Currently he is trying to demonize Representative Ilhan Omar and the Squad, the four freshman Congresswomen of color whom he said were unpatriotic, enemies of our democracy, and should go home to their countries filled with crime, poverty, and communism. Of course, the Congresswomen are all American Citizens. Three of them were born here. This is actually the country they are from. So, this is an example of the kind of verbal fire that needs to be put out with cold water. Preferably before some enraged Trumpist actually assassinates a member of the Squad. The fire he spews is destructive and evil.

But, truly, the way to fight fire is with fire. Firemen use a fire-break to interrupt the path of the fire. You can bulldoze or chop the wood in the way of the fire. Or you can burn it in the opposite direction. Many forest fires are ended in this way.

And I have been writing my fiction with fire. Controversial issues taken head on and given a clarity that burns brightly enough to leave burn marks on the psyche and write messages in ash on the heart of the reader. This is why beloved characters die in fictional stories and bad things happen to good people… to make a lasting scar or burn on the idea-collections in the readers’ brains.

I have in the past few novels written about sexual assault, attempted rape, murder, greed, brutality, excessive anger, and the current work-in-progress tackles suicide. And I battle these raging fires with positive fires set from empathy, community and familial love, preserverance, determination, and simple faith. I am trying to fight fire with a better fire, destructive fire replaced by zeal.

Okay. So, I’m an idiot, expressing foolish ideas with loopy metaphors. But I can make you think. And thinking is electrical fire in the brain. And I have been steadily pouring gas on that word-fire.

Leave a comment

Filed under commentary, insight, metaphor, Paffooney, politics, strange and wonderful ideas about life

That Damned Human Race

You have to wonder when you pay attention to what people are actually doing in this world, if the human race needs to be exterminated once and for all.

I know that as jokes go, that one is a little bit dark. But as we may actually be faced with a tipping point into the funnel of human extinction in only twelve years, it seems to me we are more likely to go down that awful rabbit hole at the bottom of the funnel than not. And that is not a very nice flesh-eating bunny we are going to find in that particular hole.

Remember, please, that I am, in fact, a pessimist, both temperamentally and philosophically. I look at the worst that could happen. But I am chagrined to see that people are actively either ignoring the climate change problem, or working to bring it on even faster by deregulating polluters in the name of making higher short-term profits. So, when the Midwest becomes an inland sea, the oceans rise to make New York and Miami into underwater bubble cities like the Gungans have, and we will have to learn to eat dirt in underground tunnels as drought and heat eliminate farming completely, we may very probably be getting what we deserve.

Obviously we are not taking things seriously enough when we continue to let the criminal orange monkey sit in the White House in pile of his own political poo and tell us things like “The Green New Deal is the radical Democrats’ attempt to turn us into a socialist country!” He doesn’t even understand that the Green New Deal is merely a strongly-worded resolution not to die in a blaze of heat generated by greenhouse gasses, and to be willing to do whatever it takes or pay whatever it costs to stay alive.

Maybe the whole question shouldn’t matter to me. I will, after all, probably be dead before the end comes for the rest of humanity. Like the Koch Brothers, I probably don’t need to fear the consequences of what industrialists like the Koch Brothers have done to our world just so they can have more money to stuff under their silk cushions to sit on.

But I do care about the world I will be leaving behind. I have many children in it. Three of my own and over two thousand that were mine for a school year or two or three to nurture and teach and shape into real human beings. I will be leaving behind a literate culture that I love and have tried desperately to add to. The worst part of that is all the wonderful books that I will never get the chance to read and own and share with others.

But there is an answer.

Motivational Quotes Human Race and Mark Twain Love Quotes | Quotehd – DAILY QUOTE IMAGE

If we can laugh about it as the ship is sinking, we will be alright, no matter what the outcome.

9 Comments

Filed under angry rant, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, humor, Mark Twain, Paffooney, pessimism, philosophy

On the Flip of a Coin…

An African coin from Kenya worth 5 cents in 1969, a Sacajawea dollar, and a Bi-Centennial quarter.

How do you make a difficult and consequential decision? Me? I often flip a coin. Heads, yes. Tails, no. So, that makes me as crazy as Two-Face, the Batman villain, who decides everything not in terms of good or evil, but rather, heads or tails. This is not normally a good method of decision-making. Unless, of course, you wish to become a Batman villain.

My coin collection, kept in a 1940’s cigar box, consists of African coins my great grandfather left me in his will, Mexican coins, a Canadian Loony and a Canadian Twoney, an Andrew Jackson dollar coin, a Washington dollar coin, all the State quarters, and lots of other old coins and keepers.

But flipping a coin never actually makes the decision. If I get a yes, I often think about the consequences of yes and flip again… best two of three, three of five, four of six, and on and on until I have given it a thorough thinking-through… or until I get the answer I wanted from the beginning. It is not really the decider, but rather, the think-about-er.

My Space Jam collector’s coin on the cigar box lid.

On Sunday I made a coin-flip decision to not go out Uber driving in the afternoon. A half hour after making the decision, the damaging high winds hit the city. So, the coin flip kept me from being caught out in the storm.

Life is not random. It is merely ordered in really weird ways.

Leave a comment

Filed under collecting, commentary, humor, photo paffoonies, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Hurry Up and Worry, Murray!

Mary, the leader of the Pirates, with Squirrel Valerie and Invisible Captain Dettbarn

I am now writing every novel as if it will be the last one that I ever write. So it is with my current work-in-progress, When the Captain Came Calling. It is a story that comes before my best novel, Snow Babies, already written and published, but was actually formed in my head and in my libretto long before I began putting Snow Babies down on the page. It is a good novel, but not the best I have ever written. I am very near to completing it.

But, unfortunately, I am also very near to completing my whole life. Pain is a constant reminder that my health is so poor, that each new day could easily literally be my last.

The IRS is trying their best to help me on towards the grave.

While I am currently dealing with the tax burden from 2018, they dug up another unpaid bill from 2017, a late-payment penalty they forgot to tell me about last December. More than $200 dollars worth. I am flatter than broke.

So, I am forced to Uber drive once more. Yesterday and today I picked up fares again for the first time in the last ten months. And I am not really well enough to do it. The curse is heavy.

But this grumpy old man ain’t quite dead yet.

One more novel to finish, and maybe another one after that.’

Leave a comment

Filed under autobiography, battling depression, commentary, humor, novel, novel writing, Paffooney

Dancing With Alan Watts

It seems sometimes, in a Judaeo-Christian society, that we are a constantly being scrutinized by a rather harsh all-knowing God who rewards getting the faith-words accurately correct, to the letter, and the faith-based actions perfect, without a single mistake. And He punishes missteps of word or deed with pain and suffering and the potential of an eternity in Sheol or Hell. And that is a tough God to live with. He is like a teacher who uses his or her God-like powers to reward or punish to lead his students all down an exacting, narrow path to a destination that does not have room for everyone when they arrive.

It doesn’t take long in childhood for a highly intelligent person to realize before childhood is over that this cosmology is actually a load of horse pucky. It didn’t even take long for somebody as semi-stupid as me.

What I like about listening on YouTube to the wisdom of Alan Watts is that he gives us an alternative way of seeing the universe and ourselves. This he can offer through his studies of Eastern and Buddhist philosophies. Everything appealing in John Lennon’s signature song “Imagine” comes from Lennon’s love of listening to the lectures of Alan Watts. He is obviously a wise-guy.

Alan Watts teaches us the pathways that lead to finding yourself, who you truly are, and how you fit into the universe as a whole. When Carl Sagan says that we are all made of star-stuff, he is not only telling us what is literally true, as the elements our bodies were formed from were literally made in the nuclear forges at the centers of stars that later exploded in nova-bursts to scatter the elements across the skies of everywhere. He is also telling us that what Alan Watts says is metaphorically true, that everything in the universe is part of the same thing and we are all one in this way.

There is plenty to worry about in my little life. I could easily drop dead at any time from any one of my six incurable diseases or even the return of the skin cancer I beat in 1983. I suffer from the consequences of disease daily, as I have for many years now. My sins are many. I broke my promise the other day to never show you the horrors of my naked body on this blog. I constantly eat the wrong thing and continue to do things that I know are bad for the environment and the health of my body. I am prejudiced against racists, stupidity, and the actions of dedicated Trump-lovers. In many ways I deserve God’s wrath and brutal correction. I have come to truly believe that climate change is going to end life on Earth. I am horrible.

But I have learned from Alan Watts that all of those concerns mean nothing. I don’t believe in Heaven or an afterlife. But I do not fear death. I am one with the universe. And the universe goes on even if I do not. And I will always be a part of it, even after I am no longer alive. The universe has a mind and is intelligent And I take part in that because one small part of that intelligence is me, and lives in my head.

There is comfort to be found in the words of Alan Watts. And living in pain as I do, I really need that comfort most of the time. That is why I have attempted to share a bit of that comfort with you.

7 Comments

Filed under artists I admire, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, finding love, foolishness, healing, health, humor, Paffooney, philosophy

Crab Apple Pie

image from https://noshingwiththenolands.com/crabapple-strawberry-tart/

I was spending time with a certain cynical youth who likes to insult me and argue about every one of my faults as a human being, telling me that such treatment is meant to improve me to meet a standard that only he thinks I need to live up to when it occurred to me; Crab Apple has two meanings.

Image borrowed from; http://ediblecapitaldistrict.ediblecommunities.com/recipes/crab-apple-syrup

Crab apples (which ominously come up on Wikipedia as genus Malus) are generally mistrusted as eating apples. Alternatively known as “wild apples”, they are often bitter to the taste. Hence, the association with the chronic complainer, the dyspeptic dude, and the hen-pecky female. Crab apples are the fruits of unpleasant people-trees.

So, how does one deal with crab apples? I always tend to fall back on the homily, “When you are given any kind of fruit, make it into pie.” And yes, the links under the pictures will actually yield recipes. I know it is a metaphorical over-simplification. But, if I do not enjoy being critiqued for the hair in my ears and the werewolf hair sprouting under my eyes, or the way I say, “I’m sorry!” too much, I am going to use those fruits to make a pie of surreal comedy in a WordPress post.

I saw a guy on the highway speeding around me at well-over the speed limit, turning around to give me a look at his middle finger, probably trying to predict how many IQ points he will have left when he crashes into whatever is ahead of him that he can’t see because he’s grinning and glaring at me behind him. There’s an apple for this pie.

The impatient clerk in the tax office gives me the “Are you really that stupid” glare and attendant sigh as she suggests that I step to the side and correct the mistakes in my paperwork so she can mistreat the next person in the incredibly long line that she wants me to return to the back of. There’s another apple.

Image borrowed from this website; https://www.abelandcole.co.uk/recipes/rosy-crab-apple-pie


In today’s world, it really doesn’t take long to have enough apples for your pie. In fact, I am looking at a huge pie now with loads and loads of crab apples in it.

Leave a comment

Filed under commentary, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, metaphor

Sunday Silly Artistical Posts

I like to dig through old piles of artwork I have done to re-purpose things and mash things together to make weird art salad.

Xeribeth the Sorceress and her parrot Herkimer

I used to play a Dungeons-and-Dragons-like game called Talislanta with groups of adolescent boys, most of whom had previously been my students in middle school. It was a weird world where weird things made artistical challenges for me that taught me to be a better and more imaginative artist.

Xeribeth was a member of an almost-human race that had yellow skin and wore colorful face tattoos. She also had to be somewhat alluring to trick adolescent boys into undertaking dangerous and possibly suicidal adventures (meaning characters who only lived on paper might die and have to be re-rolled with dungeon dice.)

Zoric, being a green Cymrillian wizard, gave me numerous opportunities to creative Kermit-the-frog-colored portraits. And he was a player character, so his greed and penchant for unwise actions decided on in the heat of battle (like turning himself into a fish-man while adventuring in the waterless desert) didn’t come from me.

Playing those games gave me training as a story-teller as well.

My efforts to see color with gradually worsening color-blindness led me to create eye-bashing color compositions that attempt to portray realistically things and feelings that can’t possibly be physically real. Thus I gradually became, over time, a surrealist (a juxtaposer of unlike and jarring things to deliver a visionary picture of reality) (How’s that for surrealistic gobbeldegook in definition form.)

Rabbit castles are the obvious answer

I often solve the problems of my life by drawing something and making cartoonish comments with serious consequences.

Little people and Slow Ones like us have different problems, but share the same world.

Ultimately, it boils down to the fact that the world on the inside of me is decidedly different than the world on the outside of me. But I have to live in both. And I can do that by drawing my colored-pencil Paffooney stuff, and posting it, and writing about it on a silly Sunday.

Leave a comment

Filed under art editing, artwork, cartoons, commentary, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney