Category Archives: foolishness

Doing Dumb Discipline

Yes, I am writing this post in response to another hard day of substitute teaching. 6th graders! Aaargh!

But the real point of it is that most of the problems I had are due to every teacher’s daily nightmare… discipline management.

This is all that remains of my classroom rules poster from the 1980’s.

Teachers, even substitute teachers, are expected to keep an orderly classroom. But the truth is, no adult human being can make a twelve-to-eighteen-year-old member of the monkey house do anything… or refrain from doing the most harmful thing that occurs to the immature monkey brain.

It is just as Carl Sandburg once suggested in a clever poem. If you tell them not to put beans in their ears, the only thing they will definitely want to do is put beans in their ears.

So, this post is my list of excuse-a-mes for why the classes I taught yesterday all had bean-filled ears.

Excuse number one; 6th graders! Aaargh! Yes, I had four classes to teach, and three of them were made up solely of 6th graders. They are the squirrel monkeys of the middle-school monkey house. Unable to sit still and be quiet on their best days, they were super-stirred and hormone-activated. It is, after all, February, a week before Valentine’s Day, the hormonal-monkey holiday. It was a writing class and they had a writing assignment that they are supposed to be working on for the next week. And the generally accepted rule among monkeys; Do no work for substitute teachers, no matter their educational backgrounds in English and writing.

Excuse number B; To maintain discipline you have to know the kids. Here’s the most pernicious problem that substitute teachers are saddled with. I had never seen over ninety-five percent of these squirrel monkeys before… not in their natural habitat… not even in cages at the zoo. Boy, do the nerd-like teacher-pleasers who are actually classroom comedians and attack-monkeys in disguise really mount up in that particular saddle and ride you for the rest of the monkey-rodeo you thought was going to be a writing class.

Excuse-a-me Three; There are too many monkeys in the monkey house. Especially the Avid class of 30 super-heated seventh and eighth grade warm bodies that I had to teach as a bonus-penalty for being a “good” substitute. AVID is a special program for troubled and at-risk kids where you put them together with a good teacher and treat them like gifted students and set their lovely little monkey-feet on a path to college. Except, this under-funded special program that works spectacularly well in some schools, is basically misused and abused across Texas where practically all kids who are not white or not wealthy are at-risk for one reason or another. I got to walk into a classroom cold with these thirty high-risk monkeys because no other sub had signed up for this particular nightmare job. No lesson plans were available. No attendance sheets were ready. And it was a science lab, so the room was filled with kids who had helped themselves to rulers and yardsticks with which they were conducting sword-fights. The teacher next door who was giving a test found for me a stack of worksheets to give out. I located a class list to use for attendance. And then I proceeded to put them into seats with work to do and threatened several lives and put one overly-aggressive girl in temporary time-out and denied restroom privileges to scores of kids who probably weren’t going to actually explode into showers of pee. And I didn’t keep them quiet, but when the bell finally rang 50 hour-long minutes later, no one had died a horrible death. And they all had their clothes still on. And it appeared that the structural integrity of the classroom was still sound enough for one more class period. And I, of course, had to quickly rush back to the 6th graders for the worst class of the day.

Excuse-a-me Finale; The sub in the room next door was more incompetent than I was on this particular day. That isn’t really an excuse for my poor showing, but it at least made me feel sorry for someone besides myself. Some of his students came to me as their next official class, already charged up for a super-fun murder-the-sub day. Some of the students who came to me had to go to him for their next period and tried to stay in my room instead. Some of his students went for extended tours of the parts of the campus where they knew no assistant principal or security guard would be. There were fights in that class. They were banging on the the walls. They were noisier than my classes. The poor young guy had none of the substitute survival skills that I had, and I was too pressed to help him at all. But he was young and healthy. He had apparently been there for a couple of weeks as he was doing a long-term job for a history teacher who was having a baby. So, he will soon learn that he does not want to become a Texas public school teacher in his future.

So, as a disciplinarian, I was really dumb for a day. I do know how to handle these things correctly, and I will make future posts about the How-to-s of that. But for today, it is enough to say that I survived to teach another day.

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Filed under aliens, foolishness, humor, kids, monsters, Paffooney, teaching

Friday Foolishness II (It Is a Great Time to be a Republican)

Image from teeshirtpalace.com

We got control of da Gubba-mint, Wuss…

To get anyting ya gotta go tru us.

Don Don Trumpatini is now in charge,

And only he can say what tings is large.

Da judges is all appointed by da Don.

So what’s legal is up ta him.

Don Don Trumpatini, I mean,

Can kill ya on any ol’ whim.

If youse sez he can’t do jest any old ting,

And get away wit it under the law,

Then ol’ Capo Bill Barr will bring on de dogs,

And dey will be eating ya raw.

picture courtesy of the Daily Beast

And don’t tink of not payin’ yer taxes,

Like all of da rich people do,

Cuz they has da money fer axes,

And can chop up especially you.

“De Dems tink dat dey can remove me,” says Don.

“Jes cuz I’ve committed some crimes.

“But as Prexy, I’ve made de crimes legal.

“So, Stoopid, youse get wit da times.”

imgur.com

And Moscow Mitch has his big ol’ back-side,

And Kanye is in his dark corner.

So dat leaves yas with no place to hide.

Cuz Hells’ gettin’ whole lots o’ warmer.

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Filed under angry rant, foolishness, humor, pessimism, poem, politics, satire

Friday Foolishness

Moose Bowling

I went moose-bowling the other day with my good friend Doofy Fuddbugg. We don’t do this often, as the moose-bowling lanes are rarely open. (There is a distinct shortage of Bullwinkles willing to grab their ankles with their gloved hands, make themselves into a ball, and then be thrown down bowling lanes by human goofballs who’ve exercised their moose-muscles to the point that they can actually throw a moose. And, of course, as antlers often get tangled up in the moose-ball return, the moose-bowling lanes can rarely stay up and running for a whole evening.)

Doofy, as he put on his bowling shoes, was enlightening me with his philosophy of dating.

“You has ta pick an ugly girl, because ugly girls will appreciate ya more since they can’t get nobody better than you,” Doofy says with a smug smirk on his smiley old puss.

“I have seen this philosophy at work,” I confessed. “I have seen your girlfriend, Green Lillian. She is four-foot-two with a bright green complexion and completely bald. But does it not bother you that her house is made of gingerbread and candy canes, and she eats small children for lunch?”

Doofy Fuddbugg

“Gingerbread-fed brats can be quite tasty with lots of catsup. “

“Don’t you mean ketchup?”

“Naw, Green Lillian makes her condy-mint out of the fur of black cats which she clips off them when they is upset and the fur on ’em is all standing uppity up on their backs.”

“Oh.”

Doofy rolled the first Bullwinkle for a strike. Of course, if you can get the moose to roll all the way to the pins, it is almost always a strike because of the antlers sticking out on either side.

Then the discussion turned to politics as my first Bullwinkle rolled right into the left gutter, then just sat there scratching his moose head and chewing on a daisy he pulled off the flower-patterned wallpaper in the restroom.

“Iddennit great we has a wunnerful prexydent in the White House to do rotten stuff to all the peoples we hates?” Doofy said stupidly.

“I really don’t hate anybody, Doofy. But the current president comes close. Why do you love him now? What terrible thing has he done?”

“He done kilt an Iranian towel-head general in the Iraqi airport. Done kilt him with a drone.”

“Yeah, I heard about it. The Great Orange Face may have started another war in the Middle East in order to get us to look away from the Impeachment trial.”

Doofy bowled another Bullwinkle for a strike.

“I dun’t know why ya allus has ta talk down about the prexydunt, Mickey. He’s a good ol’ boy. And why does ya allus wanna im-peach him fer? He’s a purty peachy guy already. Ya dun’t need to put him IN a peach. Ya oughtta be X-peaching him!”

“Yeah, let’s not talk about him anymore,” I moaned as I rolled a Bullwinkle into the right gutter.

“Eeyup, I win der arguey-mint again cause I jes’ keep repeatin’ the facts until yer pointy liberal head is done ready to explode.”

“Whatever you say, Doof. You can’t argue logic like that because it simply doesn’t exist. How can you argue what doesn’t exist?”

Doofy laughed and laughed as he rolled another moose-bowling strike on his way to a 300 game. 300 to 0. God, I hate moose-bowling.


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Filed under cartoons, foolishness, humor, Paffooney, satire

Cries of the Writing Addict

For the last five and a half years I have been averaging more than 500 words every day. A rough conservative estimate of that means 17,112,000 words. If words were cocaine, I’d be dead five times over by now.

But writing is not the same as cocaine. The addiction to it has very different effects. I divide my daily writing into at least two parts. The daily blog is itself, more often than not, 500-plus words. So, by itself it can satisfy my daily word-count. And I devote at least 500 words every day to my novel work in progress. So, that means I have produced well over 17 million words in reality. Probably closer to 34 million than to 17. That, of course, is far less than Stephen King wrote in the same period of time, but it is also far more than the average person writes.

And one thing that such an overdose of verbiage does to a writer, is to make him or her a better writer.

I have produced nine novels, between 35,000 and 50,000 words each, in the time since I retired from teaching and began writing and self-publishing in earnest. I have gotten only five-star reviews on the novels that have been read and reviewed. Granted, nobody who read and hated my books hated them passionately enough to leave a scathing review, so the 5-star average is just due to laziness on the part of the reading public. But it is marginally evidence that my storytelling is good.

Another effect I have experienced from my writing addiction is that it has made me increasingly metaphorically naked. My illustrations for this post reveal a little bit of that. It is not only that I like to write in the nude when I can, but that I have used my stories to grapple with everything that was once a deep, dark secret buried in the depths of me. Being sexually assaulted as a child was something that for many years I could never admit even to myself. Struggles with loneliness, depression, and self-hatred are also something I had kept buried until I needed them to tell stories with.

I finally worked up the courage to send a gift copy of Snow Babies to the girl I grew up with whose name I used for the main character, Valerie Clarke. Valerie loved the book and became an advocate for me with both the Belmond and Rowan libraries. I even admitted that the part about Valerie being the most beautiful girl ever born in Norwall, Iowa came from something the boys in our 5th and 6th grade classes at school all said about her. She told me she never knew we had said that back then. Ah, but that was probably an untruth too.

As addictions go, my addiction to fiction is probably a lot better thing to have than addictions to gambling, cocaine, wife-beating, or gummy bears. But it hasn’t made me any richer or healthier either. It has made me older, and possibly a little bit wiser.

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Filed under autobiography, battling depression, being alone, feeling sorry for myself, foolishness, writing, writing humor

Tarzan and the Timeless Valley of Nostalgia

There was a time when Tarzan was one of the ruling heroes of my boyhood fantasies of power and self-fulfillment. And, while Tarzan was a cartoon show on Saturday morning, comics by Burne Hogarth, movies in the theater in color with Mike Henry, or a weekly series on TV with Ron Ely, he was always Johnny Weissmuller to me. Weissmuller who played both Tarzan and Jungle Jim in the Saturday afternoon black-and-white movies.

I have to admit, I didn’t identify with the character of Tarzan as much as I thought of myself like the character “Boy”, played by Johnny Sheffield in movies like “Tarzan Finds a Son”. It was a significant part of my boyhood to imagine myself being like Boy, free from practically all restraints, able to gad about the dangerous jungle nearly naked with monkey pals and no fear. If I got into trouble by believing my skills were greater than they really were, I would save myself with ingenuity, and, barring that, Tarzan would rescue me. And, believe it or not, sometimes there were fixes that Tarzan got into that he needed me and Cheetah to be creative and get him out of. I knew in my heart that one day real life would be like that, especially once I grew into Tarzan and stopped being just Boy. That idea was in my head so loudly that several times I went to Bingham Park Woods, stripped down, and played Boy in the Jungle.

As in the previous essay about Heroes of Yesteryear, I learned important things from Johnny Weissmuller on Saturday TV. He taught me that all you really needed, even in the darkest jungles of Africa, was confidence and courage. You could stand up to any deadly danger without the protection of any armor, practically naked, in fact, if only you had that heroic goodness of heart. The little boy I was then still believes that whole-heartedly even in the aging body of an old man.

So, Tarzan continues to live in my memory, a part of me, an essential part of my education. He is me and I am he. But only in my mind. Me in a loincloth, swinging on a vine now… and probably going splat like an overripe melon on the jungle floor… well, that is too ridiculous to even imagine being real anymore. Yet he lives on in me. And he battles the metaphorical leopard-people of modern life through me. Unarmored. Confident. And unafraid.

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Filed under autobiography, comic book heroes, foolishness, heroes, humor, movie review, old books, review of television, strange and wonderful ideas about life, TV as literature

Chicken-like Spaceships and Other Fantasy Sillyart

Ninja Chickens doing Chicken-Dance-Fu

These don’t actually qualify as Paffooneys because there is no story to go with them today. Just Mickey doing ridiculous pictures again .

Brekka the girl Telleron and her Man-Eating Plant

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Filed under artwork, foolishness, goofiness, humor

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