Category Archives: goofiness

The Uncritical Critic Watches Another Quirky Movie

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Yesterday was a weird day.  If you looked carefully at the mental map I made of Mickey’s head the other day, you realize that Uncle Slappy’s Big Box of Weirdness occupies a key position in the top center.  I had a traffic accident in the parking lot of Long Middle School yesterday morning, banging bumpers with a lady named Vilma.  The sun was in my eyes, and she started to go, then suddenly stopped for no reason I could see.  No damage was done to anything but my pride.  My wife put her parents, Tatang and Inang, on an airplane yesterday bound for the Philippine Islands, going home for a visit.  Afterwards, my wife was feeling mortal, betting me that she was going to die before me even though I have the head start of six incurable diseases and surviving cancer once already.  There are no symptoms for her impending heart attack, so I will probably win that bet.  But the point is, it was a weird time yesterday to stumble weirdly over a weird and wacky movie on Netflix called Moonrise Kingdom.  It is a Romeo and Juliet sort of story about two twelve-year-olds who fall in love at first sight, and though their families try to keep them apart, they end up together.  Thankfully it is not a Shakespearian Tragedy where everybody dies at the end, though Sam is struck by lightning and the big storm nearly drowns all the boy scouts.  It is more like a Shakespearian Comedy where everybody gets married at the end, though the twelve-year-olds don’t get married at the end… rather, they are married by the middle.

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Wes Anderson is the genius director behind movies like;

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None of which I have seen, but now have to watch ALL of them sooner or later.  Kinda like the mad quest to see every Tim Burton movie ever made.  I am one of the few idiots out there who think Dark Shadows was a truly wonderful movie, and along with Edward Scissor-hands, one of the finest things Johnny Depp has ever done.

In Moonrise Kingdom Anderson uses tracking shots at the beginning that shift quickly from one room to the next in a way that invokes an old-time slide show.  The story is set in 1965 in Maine, and is filled with all kinds of iconic references to things we 60’s kids all vividly recall.

The movie also tells the love story of Sam and Suzy with a painter’s sense of iconic pictures that focus you on important plot points and themes.

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And there are numerous quotable bits that make the movie what we teachers refer to as a text-rich environment, complete with phony kids’ books and maps and notes.

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The all-star cast is pretty good, too.

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This is now one of my new favorite movies.  It is a happy-ending-type fairy tale with no fairies in it.  It is full of ineffectual and incompetent adults who have rules of behavior like grown-ups and motivations like goofy kids… just like real life.  The plot is driven by the notion that anything you do in life is a mistake, and mistakes have consequences, but you have to do them anyway because, well… that’s life.

Am I telling you that you should watch this movie too?  Well, you should… but, no.  I am simply gushing about this quirky movie because I like it, and yesterday was a very weird day.

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Infinite Monkeys

The theorem goes, “If you sit an infinite number of monkeys behind an infinite number of typewriters and let them tap away at random for an infinite amount of time, they will eventually come up with all the works of Shakespeare, and in addition to that, all the works of literature that have ever been written and ever will be written.”

Now, that is a daunting theorem. All the great works of literature by Mickey will be recreated by monkeys? And even worse, they will probably produce much better versions of all of it. Plus versions of it written in German, Mandarin Chinese, Urdu, and Californian (a really difficult language to translate.) All languages ever created on all the planets of the universe, as a matter of fact. The proof is there. It hinges on the mathematically precise definition of “Infinite.”

But you have to remember, infinite is the biggest number there is.

So many variations will be there in the truthfully infinite amount of stuff that infinite monkeys will produce that one version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet will have a final act where, instead of everyone dying or accidentally killing themselves, Hamlet will talk them all into putting on yellow chicken costumes and dancing with hula hoops as a means of acquiring absolution for their sins.

And a version of it will also exist where all the letter “B’s” will be replaced by “P’s” and all the vowels will be doubled so that Hamlet’s famous soliloquy will begin, “Too pee oor noot too pee, thaat iis thee quueestiioon…”

Accurately imagining the conditions required to have infinite monkeys tapping out infinite works of literary art means that any ridiculous thing that Mickey thinks of will have to actually be typed out by one or more (or infinite) monkeys in all of that infinite monkey writing. Somewhere Eugene Ionesco’s play Rhinoceros will have nothing but characters who are rhinoceroses at the beginning of the play who turn into human beings by the end of the play. (That is the exact opposite of the real French absurdist’s play, for those of you who did not have to read such stuff in college literature courses.)

In fact, in order to think up all the ridiculous variations of every work of literature would take Mickey an infinite amount of time. Mickey probably doesn’t really want to live that long.

And then there is also the question of the physics of infinity. Is the universe itself, I mean, the one we all live in presently, actually infinite? Astrophysicists don’t think so according to current observable data on the astronomical model of this universe. And then you have the problem of infinite monkeys made of infinite matter. The universe would be filled to overflowing with infinite monkey-matter. And that leaves no matter or space to be used for infinite typewriters. The whole universe would be monkey-matter. And that would also mean no room for bananas, or, in fact, any monkey food of any kind. What is going to motivate the infinite monkeys to work for an infinite amount of time on their monkey literature which they won’t have typewriters to write on anyway?

And then there is another horrible thought that occurs to me. In this picture to the left, do you see the evil monkey? Believe me, if you have an infinite amount of monkeys, one or two (or possibly an infinite number of them) will definitely be evil geniuses.

And evil monkeys do evil monkey-business.

At least one or two (or possibly… you know…) evil monkey geniuses will disassemble infinite typewriters to make infinite doomsday devices. Typewriters will be re-engineered into computers and will become filled with monkey-viruses that will rewrite the operating software of the universe. And then, everything becomes an infinite monkey-villain paradise where the evil geniuses among the monkeys will live the perfect life for monkey criminals full of monkey crimes and monkey debauchery and the kind of infinite chaos that infinite monkey-villains enjoy.

This thinking about infinite monkeys leads to one very definite infinite-monkey conclusion; WE DO NOT WANT TO MESS WITH GIVING INFINITE TYPEWRITERS TO INFINITE MONKEYS!!!

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Finding My Voice

As Big MacIntosh welcomes more little ponies into my insanely large doll collection, I have been reading my published novel Snow Babies.  The novel is written in third person viewpoint with a single focus character for each scene.  But because the story is about a whole community surviving a blizzard with multiple story lines criss-crossing and converging only to diverge and dance away from each other again, the focus character varies from scene to scene.

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Big MacIntosh finds himself to be the leader of a new group of My Little Ponies.

In Canto Two, Valerie Clarke, the central main character of the story, is the focus character.  Any and all thoughts suggested by the narrative occur only in Valerie’s pretty little head.  Canto Three is focused through the mind of Trailways bus driver Ed Grosland.  Canto Four focuses on Sheriff’s Deputy Cliff Baily.  And so, on it goes through a multitude of different heads, some heroic, some wise, some idiotic, and some mildly insane.  Because it is a comedy about orphans freezing to death, some of the focus characters are even thinking at the reader through frozen brains.

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The ponies decide to visit Minnie Mouse’s recycled Barbie Dreamhouse where Olaf the Snowman is the acting butler.

That kind of fractured character focus threatens to turn me schizophrenic.  I enjoy thinking like varied characters and changing it up, but the more I write, the more the characters become like me, and the more I become them.  How exactly do you manage a humorous narrative voice when you are constantly becoming someone else and morphing the way you talk to fit different people?  Especially when some of your characters are stupid people with limited vocabularies and limited understanding?

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The ponies are invited to live upstairs with the evil rabbit, Pokemon, and Minions.

I did an entire novel, Superchicken, in third person viewpoint with one focus character, Edward-Andrew Campbell, the Superchicken himself.  That is considerably less schizophrenic than the other book.  But it is still telling a story in my voice with my penchant for big words, metaphors, and exaggerations.

The novel I am working on in rough draft manuscript form right now, The Baby Werewolf, is done entirely in first person point of view.  That is even more of an exercise of losing yourself inside the head of a character who is not you.  One of the first person narrators is a girl, and one is a werewolf.  So, I have really had to stretch my writing ability to make myself into someone else multiple times.

I assure you, I am working hard to find a proper voice with which to share my personal wit and wisdom with the world.  But if the men in white coats come to lock me away in a loony bin somewhere, it won’t be because I am playing a lot with My Little Ponies.

 

 

 

My best novel is free to own in ebook form for today and tomorrow. Buy it now with the link above. The offer is good until the end of the day on 12/14/2021.

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Fairy Tales and Dragons (with pointillism)

Going through my old drawing portfolio, I found my children’s book project from my undergrad college years.  I have no idea now looking at the illustrations what the story was even about.  I lost the actual story, and I never made a cover for it.  But here is a look at old hopes and dreams and a way of seeing the world that begins; Once Upon a Time…

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I have no earthly idea what the heck this story is even about, but I do like the pen and ink work, and probably couldn’t repeat it if I had to.

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More Fairy Nonsense

Yes, in writing a story about fairies set in Fairyland, I am starting to see fairies everywhere. And I am sorta doing that to myself. Here is yesterday’s art project.

Pen and ink and paper, pasted on cardboard, with colored pencils.

Using Stacy and Ricky, dolls, scissors, glue, all things I already have plenty of.

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They meet and share some Pixie Dust.

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Gooseberry Pie

I would like to contend that a blog is a form of self-portrait.  Do you want to argue with me?  Have a piece of Gooseberry Pie….

You see, gooseberries aren’t made from geese.  They don’t look like gooses… er, goosei… um, geese.  They aren’t the favorite food of a goose, unless, maybe…  Mother Goose.  The name is a corrupted form of the Dutch word kruisbes , or possibly the German Krausbeere.   You know, because people who speak English don’t know how to talk right.  They don’t have anything to do with geese.  In the same way, a person’s name doesn’t really help you understand the person that wears it.  You have to dig deeper.  Do you know, I have never actually tasted gooseberry pie?  I have seen and even picked the gooseberries.  They are danged ugly, spikey-furred snot-green berries.  I am not tempted in any way to put one in my mouth.  And yet, I should not judge gooseberry pie before I taste a piece.  I know people who adore gooseberry pie.  Maybe you are one of them.

The point is, blogs are exactly the same thing.  An artist, a writer, a producer of something, or a day-dreamy noodling goober has put together a blog to display their wares, show off their creations, and share their words and wisdom.  You have to look at them, warts and all, and actually take a bite.  You have to try them out and test them.  Follow them over time.  Read, absorb, and appreciate… not merely zoom through and look at the pictures… and maybe click “like” at the bottom of the post.

Of course, I admit, I do the very thing I am advising you not to do.  The first few times I visit a blog, I scan through and only focus on a few things that catch my falling stars.  (oop!  Shame on me… I should say “catch my fancy”.  Forgive me for lapsing into Mickian brain farts for a moment there).  But if I am lured into coming back, I dip deeper and read more… tasting it thoroughly, as it were…  And much of what I taste there will end up in my own recipe somewhere down the line.  I begin to learn who that blogger is, and their writing style… sometimes even their thinking style (though I don’t read minds… only smell brain farts and odoriferous mental cooking smells) and I picture them as people in my minds eye.  Sometimes I wonder if they match in real life the person I am picturing.  Of course, the answer is no.  People don’t look like what you think they should look like.  They don’t even look like what they think they look like either… even in photos.  So let me end this goofy pie-based argument about why blogs are self portraits with a few self portraits I have created that aren’t really what I look like , even if it is a photo.

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Me in the mirror, 1980

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Scary pictures of the artist as a creepy old man…

 

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The novelist me…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A wizard selfie taken at Mad Ludwig’s Castle in Bavaria.

 

 

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Who I am and who I was…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Seriously grumpy me…

Gag!  Enough of the gooseberries already!  Or are they gross-berries?  I think that I really don’t look anything like me anymore.

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I Love to Laugh

“Mickey, why can’t you be more serious the way smart people are?”

“Well, now, my dear, I think I take humor very seriously.”

“How can you say that?  You never seem to be serious for more than a few seconds in a row.”

“I can say it in a high, squeaky, falsetto voice so I sound like Mickey Mouse.”

“You know that’s not what I mean.”

“I can also burp it… well, maybe not so much since I was in junior high.”

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“I distinctly remember getting in trouble in Mrs. Mennenga’s third grade class in school for pantomiming pulling my beating heart out of my chest and accidentally dropping it on the floor.  She lectured me about being more studious.  But I made Alicia sitting in the row beside me laugh.  It was all worth it.  And the teacher was right.  I don’t remember anything from the lesson on adding fractions we were supposed to be doing.  But I remember that laugh.  It is one precious piece of the golden treasure I put in the treasure chest of memories I keep stored in my heart.”

Groucho

“I always listened to the words Groucho Marx was saying, even though he said them awfully fast and sneaky-like.  I listened to the words.  Other characters didn’t seem to listen to him.  He didn’t seem to listen to them.  Yet, how could he respond like he did if he really wasn’t listening?  In his answers were always golden bits of wisdom.  Other people laughed at his jokes when the laugh track told them to.  I laughed when I understood the wisdom.”

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“Laughing is a way of showing understanding.  Laughing is a way of making yourself feel good.  Laughing is good for your brain and your heart and your soul.  So, I want to laugh more.  I need to laugh more.  I love to laugh.”

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Classroom Clownery (Not to be confused with Sean Clownery… He’s James Blond)

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See Dick?

See Jane?

See Sally?

See Dick run?

See Jane run?

See Sally…?   Wait a minute!  Why don’t I remember Sally?

Did Dick forget to feed Spot and Spot was forced to kill and eat Sally?

No…  I had Dick and Jane books in Kiddy-garter and they did have Sally in them.  And Spot never killed anyone.  But with all the running she did, Sally did not do anything memorable.  If my teacher, Miss Ketchum, had told the Spot eats Sally story, I’m sure I would’ve remembered Sally better and learned to read faster.

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But I actually did learn to read faster because there was a Cat in the Hat, and a Yertle the Turtle, and because Horton the elephant heard a Who, and a Grinch stole Christmas.  Yes, humor is what always did it for me in the classroom.  Dr. Seuss taught me to read.  Miss Mennenga taught me to read out loud.  And in seventh grade, Mr. Hickman taught me to appreciate really really terrible jokes.    And those are the people who twisted my arm… er, actually my brain… enough to make me be a teacher who taught by making things funny.  There were kids who really loved me, and principals who really hated me.  But I had students come back to me years later and say… “I don’t remember anything at all from my classes in junior high except when you read The Outsiders out loud and did all those voices, and played the Greek myth game where we had to kill the giants with magic arrows, and the stupid jokes you told.”  High praise indeed!

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I think that teaching kids to laugh in the classroom was a big part of teaching them how to use the language and how to think critically.    You find what’s funny in what you learn, and you have accidentally examined it carefully… and probably etched it on the stone part of your brain more memorably than any other way you could do it.  And once it’s etched in stone, you’re not getting that out again any time soon.

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Humor makes you look at things from another point of view, if for no other reason, then simply because you are trying to make somebody laugh.  For instance, do you wonder like I do why the Cat in the Hat is trying to pluck the wig off of Yelling Yolanda who is perched on the back of yellow yawning yak?  I bet you can’t look at those two pictures positioned like that and not see what I am talking about.  Of course, I am not betting money on it.  I am simply talking Iowegian… a totally different post.

But the point is, humor and learning go hand in hand.  It takes intelligence to get the joke.  Joking makes you smarter.  And that is why the class clowns in the past… the good and funny ones… not the stupid and clueless ones… were always my favorite students.

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Mickey Plays with Pictures and Paint

Once I was finally able to scan pictures again, I did some scanning of old pictures that only got the camera treatment before on my blog.

But why stop a drawing at just the pen and ink, when there is potential for so much more?

So, I took the Microsoft generic paint program and my generic photo editor to not only this pen and ink of the Jungle Princess, but a few other pictures as well.

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This is what she looks like after being attacked with color by my arthritic old hands. (There was a day when I could have handled intricate details more cleverly, but that was many, many days ago.

Anyway, I have added new dimensions to Leopard Girrrl with color.

Now I need to add more complications to the basic story of the picture.

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Here is an older pen and ink.

This is Dorin Dobbs, one of the dueling plotlines’ protagonists from the novel Catch a Falling Star.

But, of course, Dorin is a more complex character than this old black and white.

So, color needs to be added.

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I had this one actually already painted in…

But in order to use it in this project, I needed to enlarge it to make it fit into the other picture.

Making this unlikely pair work together in a story is one of the challenges of doing surrealist stories. They have to be grounded in realism, but also bring jarringly different things together. Like the Jungle Princess going on an adventure with Norwall’s Lying King.

But, putting these two together is still not enough. Let’s try some other things.

The Jungle Princess together with Tomboy Dilsey Murphy is an unusual pairing.

Or what about the blue faun from Laughing Blue?

Or even Annette Funicello?

Ridiculous, I know. But don’t they look like satin sofa paintings?

And how surreal is that?

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Ah! The Funny Face!

To celebrate the funny face, you really have to smile.

The goofy look, the bizarre expression, that lingers for a while.

Have a face that’s funny? It really is a gift.

To look for happy people, use the chuckle-sound to sift.

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