Category Archives: goofy thoughts

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 create 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, posting it, and writing about it on a silly Sunday.

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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.

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Being Prosaic

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I admit it.  I am prosaic.  I think in sentences.  I speak in paragraphs.  I write in 5-paragraph essays.  I should stop with the repetition of forms and the parallel structures, because that could easily be seen as poetic and defeat my argument in this post.  I write prose.  Simple.  Direct.  Declarative.  But those last three are sentence fragments.  Does that fit the model of prose?  How about asking a question in the middle of a paragraph full of statements?  Is that all simple enough to be truly prosaic?

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Prose is focused on the everyday tasks of writing.  It seems like the world thinks that the mechanical delivery of information in words and sentences should be boring, should be functional, should be simple and easy to understand.

I don’t mean to be pulling your reader’s mind in two directions at once, however.  I need to stop confusing you with my onslaught of sentences full of contradictory and complex ideas.  I should be more clear, more direct, and more to the point.

So here is my thesis, finally clearly stated; The magic of writing prose, it turns out, makes you the opposite of prosaic.

20160705_214055Ah, irony again!  It ends up being anything but simple.  You can write in simple, adjective-and-adverb-free sentences as Hemingway did, and still manage to convey deeply complicated and thoughtful ideas.  One might even suggest that you can create poetic ideas in mere prose, dripping with layers of emotion, conflict, theme, and deeper implied meaning.  You can also write prose in the intensely descriptive and convoluted style of a Charles Dickens with many complex sentences and pages-long paragraphs of detail, using comic juxtapositions of things, artfully revealing character development, and idiosyncratic dialogue all for comedic effect.  Prose is a powerful and infinitely variable tool for creating meaning in words.  Even when it is in the form of Mickian purple paisley prose that employs extra-wiggly sentence structure, pretzel-twisted ideas, and hyperbolically big words.

Simply stated; I am a writer of prose.  I am too dumb about what makes something poetry to really write anything but prose.  But I do know how to make a word-pile like this one that might just accidentally make you think a little more deeply about your writing… that is, if you didn’t give up on reading this three paragraphs ago.  I find it useful to examine in writing how I go about writing and what I can do with it.  I try to push the boundaries in directions they haven’t been pushed before.  And hopefully, I learn something from every new essay I write.  What I learned here is that I am prosaic.  And that is not always a bad thing.

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Friday the 13th, 2022

I am not superstitious. At least, not as long as I don’t discover I was a Knight Templar long ago in a past life. Especially not a Templar in France on Friday 13th of October, 1307. It is not a good idea to poke old demons and wake them up when they have been sleeping for centuries. But I don’t believe in demons either.

The St. Louis Blues hockey team won their playoff series this week, ending the series with three straight wins in a best-of-seven series against the Minnesota Wild. So, bad luck didn’t affect my favorite NHL team in their quest for a second Stanley Cup. Of course, they didn’t play on Friday the 13th.

The future still looks bleak. Those of you who were depending on Elon Musk to solve the climate crisis by moving us all to Mars or something need to be aware that he is buying controlling interest in Twitter. And he is truly terrible at Twitter. He’s not thinking about saving the world on Friday the 13th, rather, he’s planning to put Trump back on Twitter We are probably doomed. Jeff Bezos probably can’t save us either. He is evil enough to have a self-publishing program on his Amazon world-wide mercantile monopoly that allows Mickey to publish his own books. And then Bezos does nothing else to help sell the product and keeps a majority of the money from all sales. This Friday brings to mind the fact that I have not sold a single book all month. Take that, Jeff Bezos! You can’t get any money from me this month. Of course, I can’t either. And the world is doomed on this Friday the 13th because Bezos can’t get money from Mickey this month, and so, refuses to save the world.

And so, there is a theory of bad luck on Friday the 13th that says once you make it through a Friday the 13th with no bad luck, then Friday the 13th will always be lucky for you ever-after. Of course, the omens are not favorable. And the Reaper has a chicken for some reason. So, things could go very, very bad later today. But I am not superstitious. And yet, I can’t stop thinking about 1307 and burning at the stake for some reason.

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K.I.S.S.

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When learning to write, you have to learn the rules.  And then you start writing, and you learn that you have to break all the rules to do it well.  But what do I know?  You have to be pretty desperate to get your writing advice from a Mickey.  After all, it’s not like Mickey was a writing teacher for over thirty years… oh, wait a minute… yes, he was.

Okay, so I decided to write today about the K.I.S.S. rule of writing.  That’s right, Keep It Simple, Stupid.  Other writing teachers tell me it should be, Keep It Simple, Sweetie, because you can’t say “stupid” to a kid.  Okay, that’s mostly true.  But I use “stupid” when I use the rule myself.  I’m talking to Mickey after all.

So, I better stop “bird-walking” in the middle of this essay, because “bird-walking”, drifting off topic for no purpose, is the opposite of keeping it simple.

I try to write posts of no more than 500 words.  I write an introduction that says something stupid or inane that speaks to the theme I want to talk about.  Then I pile in a few sentences that talk more about the theme and do a good job of irritating the reader to the point that they can’t wait to get to the conclusion.  Finally I finish up with a really pithy and wonderful bit of wisdom to tie a knot in the bow of my essay.  I save that bit for the end as a sort of revenge for all the readers who don’t read all the way to the end, even on a short post like this one.  Of course, I could be wrong about how wonderful and pithy it is.  What does “pithy” even mean?  It can be like the soup in the bottom of the chili pot, thicker and spicier than what came before… or possibly overcooked with burned beans.

That was another bit of “bird-walking”, wasn’t it?  See, you have to break the rules to make it work better.

So, in order to keep it simple, I guess I need to end here for today.  Simple can be the same thing as short, but more often you are trying to achieve “simple and elegant” and pack a lot of meaning and resonance into a few lines.  And I, of course, am totally incapable of doing that with my purple paisley prose.  And there’s the knot in that bow.

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A Night at the Symphony

Last night my wife took us to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for a performance of Gustav Mahler’s Das Klagende Lied (The Song of Lamentation).  So, you can bet we were in for a happy night just based on the title of the piece.  As you might’ve detected from the post title’s similarity to the Marx Brother’s movie A Night at the Opera, I took along my wacky mental versions of the Marx Brothers… whom I call the Snarcks Brothers.  They are Scarpigo, Cinco, and Zero Snarcks. Think Groucho, Chico, and Harpo, and then my mental fartgas won’t prevent you from understanding quite as easily.

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Jaap Van Zweden, conductor of the DSO, and aspiring impersonator of Grumpy from the Seven Dwarfs

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Scarpigo, Cinco, and Zero Snarcs… so to speak…

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love classical music and I like Mahler okay.  But his music tends to be depressing and sad.  I don’t mean merely depressing and sad, but deep down at the bottom of the canyon with hill giants tossing boulders at your head in the midst of a thunderstorm symphonic sort of depressing and sad.  It could really bum me out, so I was prepared to have Scarpigo lean over the balcony rail numerous times to shout “Booga-booga!” at the concert goers.  And the Blues lost to the Sharks in the Stanley Cup playoffs already this past week.

Fortunately the DSO often adopts the old movie theater tactic of cartoon shorts before the feature film… the same way Pixar does for Disney now.  They chose Aaron Copland’s Clarinet Concerto as the cartoon short.  Now this is also supposed to be sad music, a single clarinet, a single harp, and a single piano… surrounded by violins, the gushing tears of every symphony orchestra.  But it is Copland, my fourth favorite composer of all time, behind only DeBussy, Motzart, and Beethoven.  As a synesthete, I can tell you that Copland’s music is always no bluer than silver, and tends to be more vermilion, rosy pink, yellow-orange and carmine red… more happy and passionate than depressing.  Then too, Cinco Snarcks whispered in my ear that since I have this Van Zweden/ Grumpy thing going on already in my head, I should look carefully at the clarinet soloist.  Yep, bald head, white hair and slight white beard and glasses… Doc!  And the pianist, bald head and big ears… Dopey!  The night would be Gustav Mahler and the Seven Dwarfs.  Zero Snarcks was thinking about squeezing off a toot or three from his little horn and maybe using light cords hanging from the ceiling for an impromptu trapeze act, but he took one look at the elegant, swan-like harpist  and fell too much in love to interrupt.

The main show, however, was everything I thought it was going to be, and worse.  They had a translator screen hung from the cords Zero wanted to go for a swing on, that took all the incomprehensible choir-crooned lyrics and translated them from German into English.  The story of Das Klagende Lied is taken from the Grimm Fairy Tale, The Bone Flute.  It tells the tale of two knightly brothers, one good and one evil, who set out to win the hand of a very self-centered but beautiful queen.  She can only be won by the finding of a special red flower that grows under a willow tree.  The knights agree to split up and search the enchanted forest for the flower.  Naturally, the good knight finds it and plucks it, putting it in the band of his hat.  And just as naturally, the good knight flops down stupidly under the willow tree to take a nap.  The evil brother finds his brother sleeping and sees the flower in his hat.  So, like any evil knight would, he kills his brother and takes the flower.

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Scarpigo’s comment on this particular story.

The evil brother then rushes off to the queen’s castle.  A minstrel wanders past the willow tree, finds a gleaming leg bone, and immediately thinks, “I have to make that into a flute!”  And when he does, the only song the flute will play is the lament about how the evil brother made meat pie out of his good brother and stole the flower.  Then, naturally enough, the flute forces the minstrel to go play at the wedding.

I’m sure you know how it goes from there.  The queen hears the bone flute’s enchanted song and flops down dead, apparently a heart-attack from shock.  And if the queen dies, then the castle has to magically fall down on the new king, the minstrel. and all the wedding guests.  A gruesome, terrible time is had by all.

So, I had a good time after all.  Scarpigo leans over to whisper to me, “That was more fun than a barrel of monkeys smoking crack, wasn’t it?”  Yes, purple, blue, blue-violet, and indigo music, and I am left depressed as hell. But when my wife asked how I liked it, I put on a happy face and said, “That’s the silliest thing I ever heard!”

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Stranger Dings

Yes, Singing Bare has no message on his chalkboard. He is clearly nonplussed by the dozens of strange small things that have been happening for which he can find no cause… rhyme or reason.

One of the reasons he is nonplussed (here meaning confused and disoriented, not the new, controversial definition of nonchalance) is that Mickey is having trouble actually getting writing done. And yet, Mickey is definitely not suffering from writer’s block. The ideas still come in a flood that, if anything, drowns out older ideas that didn’t get written down before the brainstorms increased. There are currently three complete novels in my head waiting to get written down, and I added to none of them yesterday.

Poppensparkle is threatening to do to her novella what her sister, Derfentwinkle, did to her novella, turning it into the novel The Necromancer’s Apprentice.

The barrier is, of course, 30,000 words. More than that is a novel. Less than that is a novella. So, how do you do necessary world-building with a world of three-inch-tall fairies and keep it spare enough to fit into the shorter novella length? One can’t let such conundrums paralyze your writing. And yet, one can’t rely on the details in the previous book not needing to be repeated in this one to build a consistent fantasy world.

The problem with the primary WIP (Work in Progress for non-writers) is completely different. I left off in the middle of a Canto, as I often do to keep the flow going from one writing session to the next. And that normally is something I can just pick up and write the next time I sit down to it. Three weeks later I still haven’t finished the scene where Valerie is in the hospital and has to explain why her cousin Tim did something stupid to land him in the hospital in a coma… to Tim’s father, Uncle Rance. It is already written in my head. Just not in the perfect words. And I know it is stupid to wait for perfect words to magically appear. But I did… and they haven’t.

But the strange little thing that has Singing Bare nonplussed is actually a nudist thing. Both he and I share the problem of wanting to be a nudist, but not quite being able to cross that barrier. For him, as an imaginary turn-of-the-century Native American boy it is the inability to cast aside the loincloth, not because he’s shy, but because that sort of nakedness can get your ads canceled on WordPress. (Not that Mickey has ads.) For Mickey it is a matter of not being able to join a local nudist club because, although they allow single men to join, and married men with supporting wives can also join, but men with objecting wives are barred from applying. My wife is okay with me being a nudist as long as she doesn’t have to get naked herself. But she is unwilling to give any kind of written or verbal consent that will be observed by anyone besides Mickey himself. She would be embarrassed for anyone else in her religion to know that it was true that she was okay with her husband spending time naked socially.

So, I am not ashamed that I like the naturist-nudist way of life. I am sad that it took me so long to embrace it as a fact in life. And my wife has known about my belief in nudism since before we got married. She has only ever been opposed to nudism because she believes her religion tells her it is a sinful act. Yer, the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Adam and Eve were perfect when they were in the Garden of Eden. and the Bible says they were naked when they were perfect. So, since Witnesses believe they will all become perfect after Armageddon, they must also believe they will be naked after Armageddon. Right? Ah, well, that’s just one of those little dings life puts in the enamel of my being. One of those Stranger Dings.

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Scientifical Dog-Poop Theories

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I have been taking note of the Republican approach to science as displayed repeatedly in Congress.  I decided that this is the kind of science that can best explain the dog-poop phenomena, since it is, ultimately, about how the data feels more than measuring and quantifying and dealing with, you know, those fact thingies.

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You see, the problem comes in with the fact that my dog, Jade, is producing dog poop at record levels, and it is all becoming rather a burden.   Now the dog-poop literature, (yes it does exist, since dog lovers write about anything and everything to do with dogs), says that it is not uncommon for a healthy young dog to poop as much as 5 times a day.  But my dog seems to poop exactly one time more per day than the number of times you take her for a walk.  If we go out five times, she poops six.  If I take her out in the middle of the night for a sixth time, she poops seven.  What the heck?

My wife really hates the dog because she poops on the carpet so much.  (The dog, not my wife.  My wife is satisfactorily house-broken.)  There are places on the living room carpet she marked as a puppy five years ago where she insists on re-pooping practically every night.  No matter how often we scrub the carpet and box her ears, still, brown spots and poop lumps to greet us almost every morning.  Maybe she does it because my wife tells her how much she hates her and the dog wants to get even.  But that is the opposite of what the dog says.  She loves Mommy because Mommy gives the dog soup bones.  Somehow, it seems the dog believes she is giving us all a gift by pooping on the carpet and filling the house with her personal scent.  She poops for us because she loves us.

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Here Jade Beyer is busy using Henry’s computer. She has her own Facebook page and everything.

I drew the diagram at the start of this article to better explain my Republicanized theories of dog poop and dog love.  You will notice that, based on observations of total output, I have theorized that dogs must be almost completely hollow.  They don’t apparently store poop in their legs, but the rest of their dog bodies appear to be hollow poop-tubes that store nearly infinite amounts of poo.  Dogs also apparently have some kind of instant-poop-maker at the base of the throat so that anything they eat, dog food, my missing left socks, my son’s retainer, dead rats, whatever was growing behind the rice bag in the pantry, and whatever people food they can steal, is instantly transformed into poop.  Need to poop on the floor because dad didn’t give you any of the bacon at breakfast?  Eat a sock.  Fill up with instant poop ammo.  The poop on the floor will prove how much you love dad and why he should give you bacon more.

So, now that I have studied the poop problem, what solutions could there be?

Well, I have threatened the dog to use corks and other sorts of plugs, but that wouldn’t solve the problem so much as merely delay it.  And I dread the impending explosion in the living room that such a plan suggests to a vivid imagination like mine.  I have thought about feeding her less, but it seems she can still use the puppy beg-eye to such good effect that she could subsist entirely on people food conned out of my son and daughter.  So, I will use a Republican congressional solution.  Since their response to poverty is to give more money to rich people, and the solution to climate change is to cut pollution restrictions, then obviously I need to feed my dog MORE!  I need to cram it down her greedy little throat if necessary.  That will fix it.  Or bring about fat, exploding dogs all the sooner.

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From an Alternative Point of View

These are not my two sons. The picture was drawn fifteen and ninteen years before they were born. Yet they were my two sons in the cartoon story this picture was lifted from.

Am I literally able to fortell the future? Of course not. But as an overly-sensitive artistical type one could argue that there is evidence in my art and writings that my reality now was at least partially embedded in my consciousness many years ago.

Estellia the Demoness

And truthfully, looking at the truth of things based on empirical evidence is what this point-of-view post is all about. We cannot always rely on the traditional concepts of good and evil as they have been taught to us. Sometimes you have to look at how the evidence stacks up properly, and just plain intuit a new way of seeing the whole picture. Yes, this is a portrait of a fifteen-year-old former student of mine. And she was definitely evil and difficult to deal with. But she went into nursing after high school. She works in the ER where her decisive ways and ferocious insistence on having things work out in her favor because that’s the way the established rules say it must be done turn into positive qualities that are probably saving lives in a Texas hospital as we speak. It is all in how you perceive the truth of a situation and then apply it.

Comedy, of course, depends greatly on rearranging your point of view. If you are going to make a joke about something, you have to re-mix and un-match the details in ways that still make a sort of sense to the reader or the hearer of the joke. I have taught at schools like Dudwhittler’s. If you are a teacher, you recognize that that school bus carries not only that which is funny, but also that which is very true. The teacher driving the bus is a tin man who easily rusts and cries too much, thus rusting further, but you can see he has earned his heart, even if he has to drive the bus on top of teaching so he will have enough money to buy food.

But probably the most anticipated thing from a new perspective that you were expecting since reading the title is a new perspective on the Coronavirus shut-down and economic depression. That alternative take is simply this… the pandemic, though extremely hard and painful, is a good thing that happened at the right time.

I am willing to say this, even though the way the virus has been mishandled in this country is going to very likely be the death of me, because there are benefits that we simply don’t recognize without a thorough punch to the gut and another to loose teeth.

It is a good thing because it will make it harder for Herr Fuhrer Pumpkinhead to win the next election, and he will probably take a number of corrupt Republicans down to the bottom of the sea with him.

It is a good thing because it is proving to us that we can survive on less and still make our way out of the bad situation.

It is a good thing because kids get extra time off from school, and probably also the chance to spend more time with the people who really teach them things we need them to know… like parents, grandparents on Zoom, teachers who don’t fear distance-learning technology, and trolls on the internet (Yes, I know that last one is risky and mainly learning the hard way, but it is also true from before the virus hit).

It is a good thing because the air is cleaner. And we have proven that we can make radical adjustments when it is a matter of life and death. And the environmental crisis is actually a matter of life and death.

So, now I’ve had my twisted say about my pretzel-minded perspective. And so you can now trash it, or possibly learn to like pretzels.

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Is Mickey Icky?


This post is about writer doubt. And Stephen King. Do those two things go together? If they don’t then Mickey is an awful writer and does not know how to do what he does. It would mean Mickey is icky.
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I used to think Stephen King was a totally over-rated writer. Back in the early eighties I read Carrie, King’s first novel, and got halfway through Firestarter, and had to give up. Partly because the book was overdue at the library, and also because I found the books mechanical and somewhat joyless in the writing. I thought he suffered greatly in comparison to writers I was in love with at the time like Ray Bradbury and Thomas Mann. I began to tell others that King was somewhat icky.
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But King was obviously also somewhat successful. He began to get his books made into movies and people who don’t read discovered the evil genius of a man who tells stories to scare them and laces them with a bit of real humanity, real human feeling, and love.
I saw it first in Stand by Me. That movie, starring young Wil Wheaton as the Steven King autobiographical character, really touched my heart and really made for me a deep psyche-to-psyche connection to somebody who wasn’t just a filmmaker, but somebody who was, at heart, a real human being, a real story-teller.

Now, the psyche I was connecting to may very well have been Rob Reiner, a gifted story-teller and film-maker. But it wasn’t the only King movie that reached me. The television mini-series made from It touched a lot more than just the fear centers of my brain as well. And people whose opinions I respect began telling me that the books The Dark Tower Trilogy and Misery were also amazing pieces of literature.
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So I picked up a copy of Hearts in Atlantis at Half-Price Books and began reading a Stephen King novel for the first time since the 80’s. MY HOLY GOD! King is not a little bit icky. He is so NOT ICKY that it makes Mickey sicky to have ever thought King was even a little bit icky! Here is a writer who loves to write. He whirls through pages with the writer’s equivalent of ballet moves, pirouettes of prose, grand jetés of character building, and thematic arabesque penchées on every side of the stage. I love what I have discovered in a writer I thought was somewhat icky. Growth and power, passion and precision, a real love of both the words and the story. He may not know what he is doing. But I know. And I love it.
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And so, while I have been editing the first novel I ever wrote, Superchicken, to make it ready for self-publishing, I have begun to ask myself the self-critical question, “Is Mickey really icky when he writes?” My first novel is full of winces and blunders and head-banging wonders that make me want to throw the whole thing out. But I can’t throw it out. It is the baby in the first bathwater that I ever drew from the tap. The answer to the questions of Micky ickiness have yet to be determined, and not by me. I guess I have to leave it up to you.

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