Category Archives: goofy thoughts

Penguin Proverbs

Penguins

You know how creepy penguins in cartoons can be, right?  The Penguins of Madagascar are like a Mission-Impossible Team gone horribly wrong and transformed into penguins.  The penguin in Wallace and Gromit’s The Wrong Trousers disguised himself as a chicken to perform acts of pure evil.  Cartoonists all know that penguins are inherently creepy and evil.

I recently learned a hard lesson about penguins.  You know the joke, “What’s black and white and red all over?  A penguin with a sunburn.”  I told that joke one too many times.  Who knew the Dallas metroplex had so many loose penguins lurking around?  They are literally everywhere.  One of them overheard me.  And apparently they have vowed a sacred penguin vow that no penguin joke goes unpunished.

As I walked the dog this morning, I spotted creepy penguin eyes, about three pairs, looking at me from behind the bank of the creek bed in the park.  When I went to retrieve the empty recycle bins from the driveway, there they were again, looking at me over the top of the neighbor’s privacy fence.

“Penguins see the world in black and white,” said one of the Penguins.

“Except for purple ones,” added the purple one.

“Penguins can talk?” I tried unsuccessfully to ask.

“Penguins only talk in proverbs,” said one of the penguins.

“But the purple one gives the counterpoint,” said the purple one.

“The wisdom of penguins is always cold and harsh,” said one of the penguins.

“Except on days like this when it’s hot,” said the purple one.

“You should always listen to penguins,” said one of the penguins.

“Of course, people will think you are crazy if you do,” said the purple one.

“People who talk to penguins are headed for a nervous breakdown,” said one of the penguins.

“Unless you are a cartoonist.  Then it is probably normal behavior,” said the purple one.

“Is this all real?” I tried unsuccessfully to ask.

“Everyone knows that penguins are real,” said one of the penguins.

“But there are no purple penguins in nature,” said the purple one.

So, I sat down to write this post about penguins and their proverbs with a very disturbing thought in my little cartoonist’s head…  Why am I really writing about penguins today?  I really have nothing profound to say about penguin proverbs.  Especially profound penguin proverbs with a counterpoint by a purple penguin.  Maybe it is all merely a load of goofy silliness and a waste of my time.

“Writing about penguins is never a waste of time,” said one of the penguins.

“And if you believe that, I have some choice real estate in the Okefenokee Swamp I need to talk to you about,” added the purple one.

 

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Filed under artwork, birds, cartoons, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney, philosophy, surrealism

Go and Catch a Falling Star…

You may have looked at the name of my website here on WordPress and wondered, “Why in the heck has that fool Mickey called this thing he writes Catch a Falling Star?”

The answer is, he named it after the first good published novel he wrote at the insistence of the I-Universe Publishing’s marketing adviser. Very poor reason for doing anything, that.

But, the secondary reason is because of where that title came from. Look at the first stanza of this poem by John Donne.

So, now, you are justified in asking, “What nonsense is this? That doesn’t have any coherent meaning, does it?”

And you would be right. These are impossible things that I am being ordered to do by a very religious cleric in the Anglican Church who was originally a Catholic, but, in the time of Henry VIII Catholicism was made illegal, and he wrote this poem about not being able to find an honest woman in his drunken, wasted youth anyway. He is ordering me here to not only “catch a falling star” (and catching a meteorite with your bare hands has rather hot consequences), but also to have sex with a semi-poisonous plant, explain why we can’t go backwards in time, determine whether and why God might’ve given Satan goat feet, listen to probably-nonexistent humanoid creatures singing, find a way to avoid anybody ever looking at me with envy and then doing something to me because of it, and, most importantly, find a place where the wind blows in a way that fills your head with facts that actually makes you smarter.

Challenge accepted!

It is exactly what I wanted to write about. Impossible things actually being accomplished. Finding the meaning behind alien beings from outer space developing an intense love of I Love Lucy television broadcasts and Mickey Mouse Club music. Discovering why intensely shy people need to embrace social nudity. Defining who is actually a werewolf and who is not, uncovering who and what real monsters are. Singing songs so sad that it magically makes people fall in love with you. Talking to clowns in your dreams and getting real answers to the meaning of life, love, and laughter.

Catching falling stars is the stupid idea that this wacky, idiotic little blog is about. It is what I write about constantly. You have to kill me to get me to stop. So, there is your fair warning. Read on at your own peril.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, goofy thoughts, Paffooney, poetry, strange and wonderful ideas about life, surrealism

Crazy Nut Images I Once Drew

Yes, I did not misspell the word “tiger.”

This picture was intended to depict the William Blake poem,

Here’s the start of the poem from Blake’s own self-published book.

So, who is the crazy nut? Blake? Or me?

Well, if you look at the piercing eyes of the Tyger in my drawing… obviously… me!

Consider the many humble self-portraits I have drawn over a lifetime.

Yep, definitely evidence in those self-portraits.

I admit to often seeing things that aren’t really there. And from strange viewpoints.

I have a tendency to see things through the lens of history.

And there are terrors in the past as well as the present.

But mostly, the crazy nuttiness is all a joke.

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Truthfully…

Truthfully… for a fiction writer, a humorist, a former school teacher of junior-high-aged kids, telling the truth is hard.  But in this post I intend to try it, and I will see if I can stand the castor-oil flavor of it on my tongue.

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  • The simple truth is, I rarely tell the unvarnished truth.  And I firmly believe I am not alone in this.
  • Yesterday I battled pirates.  (While this is not literally true, it is metaphorically true.)  They were the scurvy scum o’ the Bank-o’-Merricka Pirates who are suing me for over ten thousand dollars despite my efforts of the last two years to settle 40 thousand dollars worth of credit card debt.
  • I hired a lawyer, but in spite of what he told me, I expect to lose the lawsuit and be wiped out financially.  I also believe Donald Trump will win as President.
  • I am a pessimist.  And it helps me through life.  I am always prepared for the worst, and I can only be surprised by happy and pleasant surprises.
  • My son in the Marines has developed an interest in survivalist gear and chaos-contingency plans.  We are now apparently preparing for the coming zombie apocalypse.
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  • I like to draw nudes.  I have drawn them from real-life models who were paid for their participation.  But no bad things happened.  It was all done with professional integrity even though I am an amateur artist.  Chaperones were a part of every session.
  • In high school I identified as a Republican like my father.  In college I became a Democrat (Thanks, Richard Nixon) and voted for Jimmy Carter.  I argued with my father for eight years of Ronald Reagan and four years of George H.W. Bush.
  • My father has now voted for Barack Obama twice and will vote for Hillary this fall if he is still able.  We spent most of our conversations this summer exchanging “Can you believe its?” about Donald Trump.
  • Blue Dawn
  • I have been collecting pictures of sunrises for three years now.  I stole the idea from my childhood friend who now lives in Florida and takes beautiful ocean sunrise pictures over the Atlantic.  But I do it because I know I don’t have many more sunrises to go.  I have six incurable diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, and COPD.  I could go “BOOM! …dead” at any given moment.  I believe in savoring it while I have it.
  • I was sexually assaulted when I was ten years old.  I can only tell you this particular truth because the man who assaulted me and inflicted physical and emotional pain on me is now dead.  It is liberating to be able to say that.  But I regret forty years’ worth of treating it is a terrible secret that I could never tell anyone.
  • Telling that last truth made me cry.  Now you know why telling the truth is not easy.
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  • I really do love and admire all things having to do with Disney.  And when I was young, I really did want to find a picture of Annette naked.  There was no internet back then.  That quest helped me learn to draw the human form.  I know how bad that sounds… but, hey, I was a normal boy in many ways.  And I don’t draw her naked any more.
  • Finally, I have to say… in all honesty… I don’t know for sure that everything I have told you today is absolutely true.  Truth is a perception, even an opinion.  And I may be wrong about the facts as I know them.  The human mind works in mysterious ways.  I sometimes think I may simply be bedbug crazy.
  • (P.S.) Bedbugs are insects with very limited intelligence.  They cannot, in fact, be crazy or insane.  Their little brains are not complicated enough for that.  But it is a metaphor, and metaphors can be more truthful than literal statements.

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The Bottle Imp Implementation

I gave you a list of places where my ideas for fiction come from, and in the end, I failed to explain the thing about the bottle imp. Yes, I do get ideas from the bottle imp. He’s an angry blue boggart with limited spell powers. But he’s also more than 700 years old and has only been trapped in the bottle since 1805. So, he has about 500 years of magical life experience to draw from and answer my idea questions. Admittedly it would be more helpful if he were a smarter imp. His name is Bruce, and his IQ in human terms would only be about 75. But, then, I don’t have to worry about misfired magic. If I asked him to, “Make me a hamburger,” he wouldn’t immediately change me into a fried, ground-beef patty because he is not smart enough to do that high of a level of magic spell.

But he is just barely intelligent enough to tell me a truthful answer if I asked him a question like, “What would happen if I put an alligator’s egg in a robin’s nest as a joke, and the robin family decided it was their own weird-looking egg and then tried to hatch it?” The answer would be truthful according to his vast knowledge of swamp pranks. And it would also be funny because he’s too dumb to know better. In fact, he told me about a mother robin who worked so diligently at hatching an alligator egg that a baby alligator was hatched. She convinced it that it was actually a bird. And when it came time for the baby birds to learn to fly, the baby alligator couldn’t do it… until she talked it into flapping madly with all four legs. Then, a mother’s love and faith in her child got an alligator airborne.

Yeah, that hasn’t proved to be a very useful story idea. I put it into a story I was writing during my seven years in high school, and then lost the manuscript. (I was a teacher, not a hard-to-graduate student.) But it was proof that you can get your writing ideas from a bottle imp.

So, if you decide to use bottle imps as an idea source for fiction, the next step is to find and acquire the right sort of bottle imp. I got mine from Smellbone, the rat-faced necromancer. I bought it for an American quarter and three Canadian loonies more than a dozen years ago. I found it at his Arcana and Horse-Radish Burger Emporium in Montreal. But I am not sure how that information helps you. Smellbone died in a firey magical-transformation accident involving an angry Wall-Street financier and a dill pickle. The whole Emporium went to cinders in an hour.

If you are going to try to capture the bottle imp yourself, which I strongly do not recommend, you are going to need a magical spell-resistant butterfly net, a solid glass jar, bottle, or brass urn. A garlic-soaked cork to fit the bottle. A spell scroll ready to cast containing at least one fairy-shrink spell. And an extremely limited amount of time to actually think about what you are doing.

Now I have told you how I get writing ideas from a bottle imp. Aren’t you glad I did not include this idea in the post about where ideas come from? After all, I am a fiction writer. I get my jollies from telling lies in story form. And bottle imps, especially angry blue bottle imps named Bruce, or Charlie, or Bill, are more trouble than they are worth. They can curse you with magical spells of infinite silliness and undercut your serious nature for a lifetime.

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In Defense of Corny Jokes

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It will probably be clear that I am writing this post because I am currently reading 1941 daily strips from Al Capp’s Li’l Abner.

But I am definitely going to talk about corny jokes, not cheesy jokes, because I grew up in Iowa, not Wisconsin.

And, yes, that is example number one.

There is a certain way of telling a joke or tall tale that is unique to the farmyard.   And it does not contain chicken poop, but rather, corn.

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Of course, as you can see by this corn-colored definition of what corny means according to Collins Online Dictionary, the word is supposed to be an insult to corniness in jokery.  That doesn’t sit well with the people of Iowa, where the tall corn grows.  We are also obvious, sentimental, and not at all original.  And we are proud of it.  Corny360_2017-06-19-17-17-44-339

To tell a corny joke right, you have to set a simple scene, and make it clear what happened, and give the audience a simple cue for when to laugh.

For instance, there was the time that Cudgel Murphy had a cat problem with his car, the 1954 Austin Hereford that he has driven since dinosaurs walked the earth.  It seems there was this time in 1988 when he kept having engine trouble.  The engine would sputter and cough and die, and when Cudgel opened it, he would find a half-eaten dead pigeon or other random bird carcass gumming up the works.  He couldn’t for the life of him figure out how dead birds were getting into his car engine.  But his grandson Danny happened to see the neighbor’s big tabby tomcat carrying a pigeon he had killed under the front of Grampy’s car, apparently enjoying a fowl meal in the dark with a nice warm engine to lay the food on.  Sure enough, when they checked the engine later, there was the half-eaten dead bird laying across one end of the fan belt.

So Cudgel set up a vigil, assigning times for himself, Danny, and his younger grandson Mike to watch for signs of that damned cat taking another bird under the hood of the Austin. With only two day’s worth of watching under their belts, Mike came running into the Murphy kitchen with the news.

“Grampy!  I seen that damned cat taking a dead bird under your car!  He’s in there right now!”

So Cudgel rushed out, turned the engine on, and stomped on the gas.

cudgels car

There were some worrisome thumps and bangs under the hood, and then the cat shot out from under the front of the car spewing howls and cat curses all the way up the nearest tree.

Cudgel laughed hard and finally caught his breath to say, “How about that, Mike?  I’ll bet James Bond doesn’t have a car that can shoot angry cats out the front!”

Now, before you chastise me for enjoying cruelty to cats, I hope you will remember that Cudgel Murphy is a fictional character, and I am merely illustrating the idea behind corny jokes.  And, besides, that cat really had it coming to him.

 

 

 

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Filed under goofy thoughts, humor, Iowa, Paffooney, satire, Uncategorized, writing humor

Fairy Tales and Wishing Wells

If you are on a writer’s journey like I am, you have my sympathy. I am not saying it is not worth it. But if it is going painlessly easy for you, you are not doing it right.

If you are doing it right, you are dredging your soul deeply with a huge jagged-edged bucket to find those small gemstones of truth and life and meaning, and then trying to arrange it all into patterns and genres and stories that are artful enough not to just look like a pile of random rocks. If you do it for a lifetime, you may be lucky enough to create a masterpiece or two, a finely-crafted jeweled creation that dazzles the eye and captures the heart of the reader.

I have always been cursed with high intelligence and a vividly over-active imagination. So, in some sense, I was always destined to be some kind of a fantasy writer with dragons, unicorns, wizards, and such crap dancing in my head, and polluting it by farting rainbows too often. Fiction-writing, by its very nature has to tell a lot of lies to get to the truth. It also has to be, in large parts, autobiographical in nature to be any good. You have to write about what you actually know. Because making stuff up without real-world references will only produce crap that you yourself (meaning you, the writer-you) can only see as mud-brown dhrek.

Therefore, my stories have to be the thing that I label as Surrealism. Many experts would call it that too. It is expressed in highly metaphorical imagery, as in a boy moving in with his father and step-family at a nudist park where everybody is naked most of the time, and the boy sees practically everyone as a faun from Greek myths. (A Field Guide to Fauns) ‘Where a boy loses his whole family in a car accident in France and must rebuild himself in the US with family he has never even met before and he does it by putting on clown paint and singing sad songs, and visiting a dream world inhabited by clowns who might actually be angels. (Sing Sad Songs) Or a girl recovering from the grief of her father’s suicide during a once-in-a-lifetime blizzard where she is saved from snow-ghosts by a magical hobo and runaway orphans from a stranded Trailways bus. (Snow Babies) The reality of these stories depends on a willing suspension of disbelief challenged by a myriad of disparate things thrown together into a kaleidoscope narrative.

I have been thinking deeply about the nature of my own writing experience as I spent most of a year working to promote my books through an online author-review exchange called Pubby during a pandemic unlike anything seen in a century.

The author-review exchange thing has been a very mixed blessing. More than half of the reviews I have gotten on my work are done by authors seeking to earn points for their own books to be reviewed by cheating. They don’t actually try to read the books. Instead, they look at other existing reviews and try to cobble together some lies that don’t show any original thinking and merely parrot what other reviewers have said.

And while some reviews come from reviewers like me who work hard at reading and understanding the book and giving honest reactions that delight me by pointing out the things they actually connected with and understood in my books, other reviewers react with unexplained horror at something they found offensive to their own world view in my books, painting them in harsh terms, in one case even calling the book child-pornography and ridiculing the authors of the good reviews as someone who didn’t understand what they were reading.

But even the bad reviews are a blessing, in that they prove that someone has actually read my books. I cannot explain why that is so important, but it is.

So, hopefully you see now why I am talking about fairy tales. A writer’s journey is hard. It burns your very soul. And you are not very likely to see any rewards but the intangible ones. If you are a fellow writer on your own writer’s journey, well, I sympathize. And I can only wish you well.

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Filed under autobiography, book review, goofy thoughts, humor, novel writing, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, writing

Friday Funnies… um, Yeah?

I have been trying for a while to develop a weekly blog routine to make thinking up something new and creative for a daily post easier… even simple. Tuesday is novel-work where I share a freshly made chapter of a work in progress.

Saturday is art day where I am supposed to share artwork I have done in a new and interesting way.

Sunday is devotional day… which is weird for an atheist who believes in God. I have a tendency to share things I am devoted to, which is far more than just religion. I have included on this blog day such things I keep sacred as Disney movies, Dr. Seuss, and being a nudist.

And Friday is supposed to be the day to be funny. Cartoons and jokes and satire and things to make you laugh.

The thing is, though I am a cartoonist, I am not that kind of cartoonist. I don’t do gag cartoons. I am more of an ironic twister of tales and tails and puns. My cartoon shared at the start here is not funny at all. Sometimes my humor novels get downright maudlin and sad. I doubt I have ever yet busted someone’s gut with laughter. I would not want to be guilty of murder by cartoon. What do you legally call that? Gag-a-cide? I put in the hyphens to make sure you didn’t think I was talking about killing Lady Gaga.

I have pretty much mastered the art of drawing cartoons. I can do eyes like Walt Kelly (the creator of Pogo) and Harvey Comics‘ noses (like the one in the Hot Stuff Devil picture) and women with huge jugs… of moonshine like Al Capp (the creator of Lil’ Abner… and you knew I meant jugs of Kickapoo Joy Juice, right? Surely you did think…)

Ah, but telling funny jokes is not what I do. Still, I believe I can lay claim to being a humorist based on this blog. I make people smirk a lot when I talk, which I take as visual confirmation that I am funny. Unless people are smirking at me for other reasons? Do I have another daddy longlegs spider dancing on my head because at least two of his long legs are tangled in my hair? Really? For the third time already?

But, regardless, I have reason to believe this post and others like it on Friday qualify for the notion of Friday Funnies. I can make myself smirk, guffaw, and sometimes giggle without looking in a mirror to see the spider. But you are welcome to dispute my funniness in the comments if you prefer it to admitting that I can sometimes make you laugh. If you do, then you will be supporting the arguments of the book reviewer who reviewed my book Mickey’s Rememberries and said, “He could be a great writer if only he were more serious/” I took that as a compliment. Irony, don’t ya know.

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Mickey Being Mickey

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A new day dawns.  It leaves me wondering.  Who am I today?  Who will I be tomorrow?

The opportunity to have any sort of control over who and what I am is coming to a close.  I don’t really know how much longer I have before pain and illness dissolve me into nothingness.  But death is not the end of existence. I may be forgotten totally by the day after next Thursday, but my existence will still have become a permanent fact.  Yes, I am one of those dopey-derfy-think-too-much types known as an existentialist.

I am feeling ill again.  Any time that happens may be the last time.  But that doesn’t worry me.

 

 

The important thing is that the dance continues.  It doesn’t matter who the dancers are, or who supplies the music.

We can be clowns if we choose to be.

We can safely be fools if we really can’t help it.

An awful lot of awful things go into who and what we are.  Those things make us full of awe.  They make us awesome.  Aw, shucks.  What an awful thing to say.

 

But what is all this stuff and nonsense really about today?

It’s just Mickey being Mickey… Mickey for another day.

It’s not really poetry.  It certainly isn’t wisdom.  It’s a little bit funny, and only mildly depressing… for a change.

It’s just Mickey being Mickey.  And a partially Paffooney gallery.

…To fill some space today.

And wonder about tomorrow.

And just be Mickey a little bit more.

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So Little Time

This picture of my two sons was drawn in 1981, almost fifteen years before the oldest boy was born. How did I know that I would have two boys before I ever met or even heard of my wife? How did I get it right that the older boy would be almost exactly four years older than the younger one? Pure coincidence, if your cherished religious beliefs allow you to believe in that. Personally I think that the dream that inspired this picture was proof of the ability of a dreamer to dream outside the boundaries of physical time. After all, time is merely a measure of matter traveling through space, is it not? If you nullify the effects of distance, all time becomes one time. You know, timey-wimey stuff.

Amazingly, this photo was taken fifteen years ago. From left to right, ages 3, 6, and 10. The Princess, Henry, and Dorin (though not their real names, their fictional names.)

Hard to believe it is now 18, 21, and 25.

Where does time go?

When did I get so old?

In 1965, the year I recently rewrote my Christmas list for, I was nine.

The world was all black and white back then. At least, that’s what all the photos taken with the old Browning box camera showed.

My mother and father were married in January of 1956. My parents were both children during World War II.

My maternal grandfather, Grandpa Aldrich, was born in 1911. The farm he lived his whole life on was established in Wright County Iowa in the 1880s.

A lot of good water has flowed under the metaphorical bridge in my 64 years of life. But where has it gone? To shores far away? Or is it still there even if the river has dried up?

Time, by its very nature, is a mystery and quite unknowable. And who is to say that all time is not one time? And all things are therefore one thing. Would my Great-Great Grandpa recognize me, and know me by name? I’ll have to ask him when I see him.

(WordPress should not have given me all these new features to wear out if they really didn’t want me to play with them. Aren’t you doing the same thing with yours?)

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