Category Archives: grumpiness

So the World Ends Dinky Finky Doo

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He says things daily that are provably untrue.  He makes huge messes that nobody is willing to clean up, both internationally and domestically.  He throws fits and Tweets like a Twit on Twitter.  He insults people with impunity and tries to wreak vengeance on those that give as good as they get from him.  How can he possibly be the President of the United States?  Well, he can’t.  If this were an actual democracy, he’d never have been voted in, let alone stay in the office this long without being impeached and removed.  Most intelligent people who haven’t been hitting themselves on the head with hammers of prejudice and party ideology can see that.  Even some Republicans.

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The selfish, orange-headed moron only cares about what affects him directly.  He constantly seeks attention and plays to the camera and to friendly audiences.  He is deliberately provocative because it gets him the attention he craves, whether it is positive or negative doesn’t seem to matter.  His decisions are guided by virulent racism and misogyny.  He will provoke conflict and do irreparable damage to the functioning systems that keep this country running.  And the Republican controlled Congress will let him do it because they got that control by cheating.  All the levers of power are in their corrupt, feckless little greedy hands.  And they will let the monkey throw poop everywhere until we all succumb to poop-related diseases.

I am already today feeling quite ill.  It helps slightly to take out some of the bad feelings on the Nazi clown that is now in charge.  But only slightly.  At some point I’m still going to die.  And we the people are probably never going to be in control of the government again.

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Much scarier than Batman’s Joker, isn’t he?

So I am bummed.  Things are not going well.  I have hand cramps from shooting the bird at the TV news every day, every time Monkey-face Cheetos-head is talking.  Bile is my ruling humor this morning.  And I need a nap so I can feel better.

 

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Trying to Think of Other Things

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It’s raining today.  Appropriate for the moment when this thing that has consumed my entire summer comes to an end.  Appropriate too for the way the orange-faced king of our country has dominated everything in public life.  As hard as I have worked the last four years to claw my way out of debt, I am now bankrupt.  Everything the king has done and continues to do hurts poor folks like me.  Was George III the insane one?  The narcissist and paranoid schizophrenic?   And if he was, why did we decide after more than 200 years of independence that we needed a corrupt despot in charge again?  We have invited the king back to where he doesn’t really belong.

So what can we focus on today to get our minds out of the mud?

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There’s always sunshine to consider.  The sun will come back.  It is like a law of nature or something.  And, although nothing is ever certain in life, “The sun’ll come out… tomorrow!  Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow… there’ll be sun!”  (That’s from the Broadway musical Annie, in case I wasn’t obvious enough.)

One can always also appreciate a pretty girl.  Is that being inappropriate?  I am a cartoonist and I have been obsessing about drawing pretty cartoon girls.  So maybe that’s what I really mean.  I’ll go with that.  Let’s think about pretty cartoon girls.

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Yes, Emma Watson before Harry Potter wearing Mickey Mouse ears counts as a pretty cartoon girl.

So, if I still can’t get my mind off the mud… what will I do?

Think about Zebras climbing trees maybe?

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Or Millie Bobby Brown starring in season 3 of Stranger Things on Netflix in October?

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But while I’m writing this, I get a call from the pool demolition guy.  The plumbing and the electrical work apparently didn’t pass the city inspector’s inspection.  Now, it’s not only mud time again, I have a fire boiling in my spleen and am tempted to take an ax to city hall.

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Thank God I am Poor

Yes, now that I am bankrupt, I thank the God who made me that he made me poor and saved me from the terrible torture of being rich.

I know that sounds like a joke.  But I am serious.  In this world where you have to be willing to climb over the bodies and crushed hopes and dreams of your fellow human beings in order to be rich, I would prefer to be on the side of the downtrodden with a clean conscience and an empty wallet.

 

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I have a castle of my own, but it isn’t very large.

I am actually a bit miffed after this last week.  The swimming pool that has given me ulcers from significant financial reversals all summer is still not removed.  I keep having to pay more and more.  I had to declare bankruptcy because my credit rating was degrading and all insurance companies and mortgage companies punish that crime by charging you more money.  The city is pushing hard to get the pool removed, but on Friday their city inspector failed to inspect the pool which must happen before the demolition can begin on Monday.  In fact, the inspector never showed his face or called to explain why.  But the city did not fail to contact the bank that holds our mortgage lien to make them reconsider the value of our property and the payments we are required to make.   Chapter 13 bankruptcy doesn’t protect you from such things as that, by the way.  In fact, it doesn’t help protect you from debt.  I still have to repay everything I owe Bank of America and the other credit card banks I owe money to.  The only thing it does do is stop the snowball of finance charges from rolling further down the mountain, and then it reorganizes my finances with outside guidance to guarantee the banks get paid off.  That is because, even though I had to pay lots of money to the lawyer, and will have to pay more before we’re done, taking care of the banks’ needs is the first priority.  So, I am on my own with the city and their demands and their bullying to make certain their demands are met too.  It is probably a good thing that I have decided to become a nudist.  After all, there will be no money left for clothes.

You will have to forgive me for beginning to think dark thoughts about rich people.  One way or another, the wealthy minority are to blame for most of what’s wrong with my life.  Congress right now is trying again with the Graham-Cassidy Bill to make certain that my next health reversal kills me.  It is very important to them that Obamacare is repealed.  And why would that be?  Is is it because Obamacare works because it takes more in taxes away from one per centers, and the Republican-controlled Congress wants to give that all back to the rich folks?  They need the extra millions more than I need to keep living, right?

I am tired of fighting over numbers in bank statements and credit card bills.  I am poor.  I have paid an awful lot of money to get to that point.  I will be satisfied to defend my tiny kingdom to the death as the orcs of wealth-acquisitions overwhelm me.  After all, I have a certain satisfaction with how I have lived my life, and no matter how badly it ends, that satisfaction cannot be taken away from me.

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The Man in the Mirror

Every now and again we have to stop what we are doing for a moment and examine ourselves.  If we are writers, we tend to do it every fifteen minutes or so.  You have to expose the soul to the light of day for a moment and take a look with eyes wide open, prepared to see the worst… but also open to seeing beauty where you may not have seen it before.

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So what do I see when I look in the mirror?  More darkening age spots, more patches of psoriasis with increasingly red and irritated potential infections.  Drooping eyes that have lost their sparkle and now darken with blue melancholy.  I see a man falling down.  Falling slowly, but falling never-the-less.  It happens to everybody with age.  I can no longer do the job I loved for 31 years.  I am no longer the goofy Reluctant Rabbit with the big pencil in the front of the classroom, telling stories and making learning happen.

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Once I was a big deal to little people.  Once I created magical experiences involving books and great authors, poems and great poets… and I taught little people how to write and master big words.  I mattered like a big frog in a small pond, able to make the biggest splash in that particular pond.  I was the froggiest.  But I haven’t drawn myself as a frog yet.

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Of course, I was never as big as that other Michael.  He made a really big splash in a really big pond.  He was a really big frog.

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He and I have a lot in common.  Not far off in age.  We got married about the same time.  Both had three kids, two boys and a girl.  Both were associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses at one point.  Both of us never really grew up.  He had Peter Pan Syndrome, and I stayed in school my whole working life.

And everybody has a dark side, in counterpoint to their better angels.  I’m not entirely sure what my dark side entails.  Being a grouch?  A diabetic?  A closet nudist?  But I have one.  I trot it out to make fun of it constantly.

But as I was feeling sorry for myself, being forced by the city to remove the pool, becoming a bankrupt poor guy thanks to Bank of America, and generally in such ill health that I feel like I am wearing a lead suit all the time, I stumbled across one of those life-affirming moments.  A former student asked me on Facebook to post a picture of myself so he could see how I was doing.  I posted this picture.

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Yep, the man in the mirror is definitely me.  I got loads of complements and howdys from former students, former colleagues, a former grade school classmate, and my Aunt Wilma.  I heard from people I care about and they reaffirmed that they still care about me, even though some of them I haven’t seen in more years than I am willing to admit.  Sometimes you have to look in the mirror to see what needs to be changed.  Sometimes you just need to see the precious few things that were always good and haven’t changed.  It is a process worth the effort.

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Filed under battling depression, commentary, empathy, feeling sorry for myself, grumpiness, humor, insight, inspiration, Paffooney, rabbit people, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Heart-Piercing Pool Problems

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This is what the pool looked like yesterday morning.

The city still thinks the pool needs to go.  They don’t trust my do-it-yourself pool repair to hold water.  But I have a lot of practice over the years drilling out, filling in, and repairing cracks.  This was supposed to be the second time I brought the pool back to life with my own two hands and loads of internet instructional videos via YouTube.  My work is not pretty.  I didn’t have time to paint the pool before inspection. My lines of repair material are crooked and uneven, but to be fair, that’s because the cracks were also crooked and uneven.  The true measure is whether or not my work holds water.

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Here is the pool this morning, virtually the same water level, minus a bit of hot-day evaporation, as yesterday.

It looks like I fixed it, right?  The city even grudgingly acknowledged that if I got the pump running quickly and replaced the underground pipes that were cracked, then I had the problem solved.  But therein lies the rub, Rube.  In order to install a new pump which was well within my budget and get the plumbing fixed, I had to have electricity to the pump circuits.  The pool guy recommended calling an electrician.  Which I did.  Oh, man, what a bloodbath of expenses that was!  $500 worth of exploring the attic and checking the lines in the house determined that not only did the electrician who installed the pool cheat and not install the electrical lines up to code, but the entire house, when it was built the 60’s or 70’s was wired improperly and has no main cut-off switch.  To repair the electricity would cost around a thousand dollars more than having the pool removed, which I already cannot afford.

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This is the pool looking as good as it is ever going to look again.

So, in spite of working like an enraged bull in the bull ring, goaded on by the matador who is the city inspector, for an entire week in July heat and unpredictable rain storms, and getting my part of the work done successfully, I am defeated.

My wife, the reigning Queen of Stubborn in our household, hasn’t given up yet.  She has cousins in San Antonio who do electrical work.  And she is determined to carry on with saving the pool.  But I am defeated myself.  It is time for a bit of depression again and more reliance on humor to get me through the dark nights ahead.  (Notice, I said dark nights, not dark knights.  I don’t have to fight Batman about this.)

 

 

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Surviving the Reign of the Monkey King

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So the head monkey has fired the giraffe in charge of looking into the Russian banana pilfering that has everyone questioning his fitness to rule.  Rule?  Heck!  I question his continued right to own bananas!

But this post is supposed to be a reflection on surviving, not another angry animal metaphor about things that can’t be cured until the next election, or until the elephants that put the monkey in charge do something about their own addiction to bananas and work up the necessary human emotion and moral outrage to remove him as head of the zoo.

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                                                                        Steve Bannon, the idea-monkey of the Monkey Kingdom

So let me enumerate some of the thoughts that give me peace in the midst of this insane monkey-house cacophony.  (Cacophony is a good word to use around the topic of the monkey king because it has both the words “caca” and “phony” in it.)

  • Bannon is a very scary chimpanzee, but he is apparently on the outs in the court of the monkey king.  He got in a verbal kerfuffle with Orangutan Junior Kushner, and the monkey king has not recently crayoned his signature on the  poison-in-executive-order-form that Bannon cares most about.
  • Orangutan Junior Kushner is now in charge of everything under the sun.  All bananas now grow by his doings, and he can’t possibly run everywhere and poo everywhere to properly fertilize all the banana trees.  And considering the toxic qualities of the monkey king’s banana trees, we probably don’t really want them to grow anyway.
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Orangutan Junior Kushner has taken to wearing Trump-style hair.

  • The Russian banana pilfering has put all other monkey initiatives on hold.  The monkey king was planning to create monkey laws with the elephants that would prevent most other animals from having any hope of health care.  It made its way successfully through the Elephant House and was supposed to move on to the Elephant Senate to be officially stamped with the notion that providing the other animals with mythical “access” to health care wasn’t just a way to make animals pay all their money to insurance piranhas and still not be able to afford any real health care.   Now they are forced instead to talk about other banana-related things.
  •  And on the subject of bananas, the monkeys and the elephants actually have them all already.  So we don’t have to worry about having bananas.  We probably never will.  All they have left for us are the peanuts.  But they like to take and eat our peanuts too.  The good part of this is that peanuts are a healthy food for diabetics.  And, of course, you can’t die of over-eating if you cannot buy food.

So, the long and the short of it is this.  It is not hard to see the end of this struggle to survive the monkey king’s rule.  I, for one, will probably not survive.  But cutting the legs out from under the giraffe investigating the Russian banana pilfering was probably the beginning of the end of the monkey king himself.  The lions, wherever they have been hiding, will now come out and eat him.

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Surviving Death and Taxes

Life is filled with impossible things.  Doing my taxes is definitely one of them.

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I once owned a copy of this Will Eisner comic and got a good barrel of laughs out of it back in the day when I was young and full of life and the grim reaper wasn’t standing just outside the kitchen door like he is now.

It had a bunch of useful suggestions on what to do in the face of the two most unavoidable things in life.  I wish I could find it once again, but I fear it disappeared when my parents moved from Texas back to the farm in Iowa in the 1990’s.  It was probably stolen by someone who wanted to learn the valuable secrets it contained.  I accuse Donald Trump.  Surely that would explain all those years he paid zero dollars in taxes.  And I believe I spotted something with pale orange hair lurking behind the trash bin when my parents were loading the moving van.   Of course, it may have been only a dried out tumble weed.

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Now, I am not saying that I don’t want to pay my taxes.  I have always felt that it was an important part of being a citizen to pay my fair share.  And if you want the benefits of government services like schools, fire departments, police forces, court systems, garbage collection, and all those other things we really can’t do without… well, somebody has to pay for them.scan0017

But it often seems to me that the whole matter could become considerably more equitable if those people to whom life and the economy have been more generous could see their way clear to pay a little of that good fortune towards common goals.  And I am not referring to the Koch brothers spending a billion dollars on elections, either.  That’s a transaction where they come out ahead, making more money back than they put in.  After all, they got the whole State of Kansas to pour their State funds directly into Koch Industries pocketbooks via tax breaks, effectively allowing them to rob all of Kansas’s public school children of their textbooks and lunch money.  How is that equitable and fair?

And paying taxes this year means probably paying far more than my fair share.  I recently completed a debt-reduction program to get out from under two decades worth of maxed-out credit cards at 25% to 29% interest rates.  And as a further punishment for trying to get free of the burden, credit card banks get to report the forgiven debt as income for me to the IRS.  And all of the banks decided this was the year for me to pay that off.  Well, except for Bank of America who are petulantly suing me for more money than I owe them.  I will probably end up mired back in credit card debt in order to survive the IRS.  So how does that square with Mitt Romney paying less than 15%?  Or Donald Trump paying nothing?

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The only out for me, it seems, is to shake hands and make a deal with old Grimmy.  He has patiently waited for me for sixty years, through times when my six incurable diseases definitely gave him hope.  The only way to really escape the tax man is to take the really long dirt nap.  But I shall scrape funds together and give it one more try.  I just wish I could find that book.

(Note *** All the illustrations in this essay except for Mr. Flagg’s Uncle Sam were provided by the late great Will Eisner, the cartoonist so grand that the highest award for cartoonists is named after him.  But I am not paying any royalties for these images since I owe my soul to the IRS.)

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