Category Archives: humor

Thinking About Thinking with a Thought-free Thinker

Yes, today is another in a long, tepid series of Art-Day posts, but it is also about metacognitive thinking. Specifically thinking about thinking using pictures to think with. (Maybe that title should say, “Free-Thought Thinker” rather than, “Thought-Free.”)

To start with, what does a person actually see when they close their eyes? My brain does not color everything on the inside of my eyelids black. Even in the dark of night with no nightlight so that nothing shines through my eyelids, my brain interprets the dark as shapes, patterns, and colors. Hence the inspiration for this picture.

But my brain is never satisfied with raw shapes, colors, and patterns. It has to interpret ideas into them. The mass of yellow and black resolves into a butterfly, or a sunflower, or an etude by J.S. Bach. The pink mass becomes a blond girl playing the music in my head…. a girl from piano-lesson days in the early 70’s. But naked. The way I always thought about her while sitting and waiting for my piano lesson and listening to hers. How else does a boy think about a pretty girl when he is fourteen?

And as the items in the picture take shape, they do also begin to tell a story. Who is this Dr. Seabreez? Is he a shaman of the Republic of Lakotah People? Is he a white man? Seabreez is not a Native American name. The naked boy by the tent flap has a crutch, and there is a mouse silhouetted nearby. Does that make him a medical doctor? A veterinarian? A professor of Native-American Studies? The mind begins to piece together a script.

But here we see that Dr. Seabreez has set up a new practice in Japan. Again the boy near the door has a crutch and there is a silhouetted mouse near him. But now the other boy has horns on his forehead. Why horns? And pointed ears? Is he a Doctor of Magic and Wizardry? Demonology perhaps? And what is an anthropomorphized panda doing in Japan? That’s clearly a Japanese castle in the distance. The collar Kanji is definitely Japanese in character.

And now there are horns again. Three of them by my count. And another naked character. But a Grecian background. The mind is here making connections between the pictures, noticing patterns. Appreciating colors. And turning every detail over in the mind’s eye, evaluating and analyzing.

Art, especially on Saturdays, totally engages the mind. That is one of the reasons we keep art around to look at again and again. It is the purpose of art to make us see something. And not just once, superfluously. We must see it in depth, looking beyond the surface.

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Filed under art criticism, artwork, humor, irony, magic, Paffooney

Islands of Identity

Island Girl2z

Who am I?

Why do I do the things that I do?

No man is an island.  John Donne the English poet stated that.  And Ernest Hemingway quoted it… and wove it into his stories as a major theme… and proceeded to try to disprove it.  We need other people.  I married an island girl from the island of Luzon in the Philippines.  She may have actually needed me too, though she will never admit it.

Gilligans Island

When I was a young junior high school teacher in the early eighties, they called me Mr. Gilligan.  My classroom was known as Gilligan’s Island.  This came about because a goofball student in the very first class on the very first day said, “You look like Gilligan’s Island!”  By which he meant I reminded him of Bob Denver, the actor that played Gilligan.  But as he said it, he was actually accusing me of being an island.  And no man is an island.  Thank you, Fabian, you were sorta dumb, but I loved you for it.

20160730_061115

You see, being Gilligan on Gilligan’s Island was not a bad thing to be.  It was who I was as a teacher.  Nerdy, awkward, telling stories about when I was young, and my doofy friends like Skinny Mulligan.  Being a teacher gave me an identity.  And Gilligan was stranded on the Island with two beautiful single women, Mary Ann and Ginger.  Not a bad thing to be.  And I loved teaching and telling stories to kids who would later be the doofy students in new stories.

But we go through life searching for who we are and why we are here.  Now that I am retired, and no longer a teacher… who am I now?  We never really find the answer.  Answers change over time.  And so do I.

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Filed under artwork, being alone, feeling sorry for myself, finding love, humor, insight, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

The Autobiography of Mickey (and NOT Mickey Mouse)

Oh, yes. It is almost complete… but for the final edit. It will hopefully be published very soon. It is filled with essays written for my blog, Catch a Falling Star. And, hopefully, I have chosen only the good ones.

But the book is not a stand-alone. It is a sequel to Laughing Blue, published earlier this year. I actually hope to reach 20 books published by early in 2021. Of course, it still requires that I don’t die too soon from the pandemic, or from any of my other problems that the Covid problem could interfere with getting medical treatment for.

Laughing Blue has five Five-Star Reviews.

Both of these books are essay collections, but the majority of the stories and explanations and comedy in each are based on my thirty-one years of experience as a Texas public school teacher, my nearly forty year association with nudists (though I can’t honestly claim to be one). my silly attempts at writing seriously bad poetry, my belief in flying saucers, and nearly ten years of being a wacky wizard. How’s that for a sentence that violates every run-on-sentence rule I ever taught any young writer?

Book number 18 is still pretty new too.

Anyway, now that you know, I better get started on that final edit. A writer has to keep his promises to himself. And maybe to the rest of you too.

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Filed under autobiography, cartoons, commentary, conspiracy theory, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney, self portrait

AeroQuest 4… Canto 117

Canto 117 – The Bogey… and Probably Not Humphrey Bogart

Ged and Shen Ming walked slowly back to the Administrative Offices in Shen Ming’s Tower. 

“You really can’t tell me anything more about this whole Avenger thing?”

“Ah, Ged-sensei, you know how it is for old men… especially really old men more than five hundred.  You forget stuff… you have hair growing out of your ears… you fart more often than you would really like…”

“No, I really don’t know about that yet.  I am older than I look, but I have not yet experienced aging as you have.”

“And you will not.  If I know anything at all about Psion shape-changers… and I probably don’t know anything, you will not age because your cells refresh themselves constantly with your ability.”

Ged nodded.  He wasn’t sure how much he believed it, but he knew it was a possibility that he had even sensed within himself.

“How old is Bres the Black Spider?”

“Him?  This I do not know.  He appeared in Kiro five years ago, having possibly come here from space in response to the White Spider Prophecy.”

“He thought he was the White Spider?”

“No.  He wanted to see the White Spider killed and the Prophecy defeated.”

“I see.”

“I hope so, Ged-dono.  At least as well as I see.”

Suddenly, Hassan Parker was running towards them at full speed, completely naked except for his red fez hat and his red courtesy towel.

“Ah, so… the naked child approaches,” said Shen Ming with an Alfred E. Neuman grin.

“Ged Aero-sensei!  You must come quickly!  There is a bogey in orbit!”

“Humphrey Bogart is in orbit?” asked Shen Ming.

“No, no… an unidentified…” Hassan had to stop and catch his breath.  He dropped the towel as he panted.

“Ah, a very beautiful child.  But not so very smart, I think.  He never seems to remember to wear pants.”

“Take your time, Hassan-kun.  Tell us what this is about.”

“…an unidentified space craft of strange design… in orbit… maybe connected to… the intruder.”

“Ah, connected to the Avenger it is not…” said Shen Ming.  “Master Jai Chang has never been off this planet.”

“Who spotted the intruder?” Ged asked.

“I was sent to tell you by Naylund Smith-sama.  He’s in the newly built spaceport, at the Super-Rooster on landing pad seventeen.”

“We have seventeen landing pads already?” Ged gaped.

“The Ancient Hammer of God builds things very fast,” said Shen Ming.  “We borrowed it from your planet Don’t Go Here, you know.”

“Ah… Ancient artifacts again.  I worry sometimes…”

“Ged you must go and investigate.  This lovely little Space Nudist is a good telepath, is he not?”

“Yes.  Only Sara Smith is better on this planet.”

“Very good.  I will take Hassan to help me find out why Master Jai Chang put on the helmet and where it came from.  You go defend the planet from terrible intruding space creatures.”

Ged hesitated momentarily.  There was something concerning about what Shen Ming had recently said and done.  But what he should do about it, and what it might have to do with the White Spider Prophecy… well, he was afraid to ask.

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Elderberries of Wisdom

Now, during the winter of Covid 19, is the right time for a bite of elderberry pie. Or a sip of elderberry wine. Did you know, the antioxidants in elderberries are a European remedy for colds and flu from the middle ages? There is old wisdom in turning to elderberries to protect you from virus and bacteria.

And old wisdom is what you get from old berries like me. The longer you put up with my blue/black berry tartness of taste, the more likely my bittersweet wisdom is to affect you in some positive ways.

Here’s a bite of elderberry pie for you. “When it comes to taste, don’t go for too much sweet or two much sour. The road between those two valley edges avoids both diabetic breakdowns on the one hand, and old, bitter cynicism on the other.”

The middle road, down the canyon’s center, is the safest road to take. Go too far to either side, and there are cliffs with many rockfalls, and occasional rattlesnakes. (I know these are metaphorical rattlesnakes; those are the best kind. It is the best way to express the idea without actual snakebites, and I only wish the members of our governing bodies knew that.)

Here’s another forkful. “A little bit of bitter is necessary to the overall flavor.”

I could also use the trite old food metaphor about having to break eggs to make omelets, but I am trying for pie-based metaphors here. You have to take a little bit of the bad to get to the really good parts. Sometimes it seems like it takes an awful lot of endurance of the bad to get to not-enough good. The current pandemic seems to be like that. Almost too many bitter berries to get to the medicinal qualities of basically beauteous berries. But that which doesn’t kill us will make us… easier to kill next time? Hopefully not. But haven’t you noticed? The best Disney movies make you cry a little at some points… cringe a little too… but they also make you laugh a lot. And the message of the movie’s ultimate ending leaves you with a smile. And smiling more makes you live a little longer. The berries grow brighter when you can make your own sunshine. These berries are beginning to taste a bit like vinegar because maybe Mickey doesn’t cook them quite right. But bottle them for now and let them ferment a bit. Then you get medicinal elderberry wine.

“Finally, when you have pigged-out on the whole pie, you should be full. It is good to be satisfied.” Eventually you reach a point in life where you will either succumb to despair, or you will look back over the arc of your life and be satisfied. The good you have done should outweigh the damage. You are a good cook. And the whole pie of your life was worth the effort to bake it.

I know that three bites of elderberry wisdom does not seem like much. But the longer you practice berry-baking, the more you come to realize, “A little bit of hard-won wisdom goes a long way towards making you healthy, wealthy and wise.”

  • No, Ben Franklin never said that. Mickey did. Sorry if that means it is not the wise wisdom you were hoping for. Pie-based essays rarely are.

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My Secret Faun

Radasha is his name.

I was a child who grew to maturity holding a secret horror… a truly terrible secret, in my creative little brain. I was sexually tortured when I was ten. I know now that it sounds like I should blame my torturer for everything, that I should have reported him to the authorities to keep him from ever doing that to anybody else. But my mental defense system took over in ways that prevented me from ever seeking justice. Or what justice too long delayed becomes, simple revenge.

But I could never be that seeker of revenge. I had a Sunday-school faith that had to be strictly followed. First of all, although the thing that happened was never truly gone from me, my creatively evil little mind forced me to forget. Or at least bury the knowledge so deeply within that I could not answer the school guidance counselor in high school when he asked, “Michael, what is it that is causing this behavior, this debilitating fear?” I could only answer that I thought I might be going crazy. He told me that he could help if it was about something like having sexual feelings toward another boy. He was more progressive than most Iowans. But, at the time, I didn’t understand what he was suggesting. I wouldn’t really understand homosexuality as a thing until I was almost out of high school, so when we had that talk, and I was clueless at sixteen, and then he talked about it with my best friend Byron, he knew that it was not about that.

The coach had seen the burn scars on my lower back and legs during P. E. But he only saw scars. I suggested to him that it was probably from playing with the large dog next door. He had big paws and untrimmed claws. And he believed me because he knew my parents, and he knew that they would never do anything like that. And he could tell that I was being truthful when I said I really didn’t know for sure how those scars had gotten there. I didn’t realize for sure how the scars happened until my more-mature twenty-two-year-old evil little brain decided I was burning myself against the heating grate to make sexual feelings and urges go away.

Radasha

I was seriously beginning to hate myself, be depressed without knowing why, and nearly killing myself at seventeen. All because of an event in my life that I really wasn’t able to admit to myself really happened.

Then, one snowy night in February of 1974, Radasha came tapping at my window.

I realize now that it had to have been a dream, but I knew even then that it couldn’t have been reality.

He was a black-haired, brown-eyed boy with goat horns on his forehead and a deer’s tail on his behind. He was completely naked, sitting on his haunches in the piling snow on the porch roof outside my bedroom window. He was grinning at me. No larger than my younger brother who was sound asleep in his bottom bunk in the room we shared. He indicated that I needed to open the window and let him in.

I should’ve realized that it was a dream then, because in real life I could not have opened the window like I did because of the winter storm-windows dad had put up before the first snowfall in October. But the scene played out according to dream logic.

“Aren’t you cold like that? You must be freezing your peeper off if you are outside naked like that.”

“Naw, I’m not real, Sharpie. I don’t feel cold because I’m a faun. I’m mythological.”

“Oh. then why did I have to let you in?”

“I’m Radasha. I am a part of you. You can’t keep me out. I should really be inside you instead of out here talking to you.”

“What? Are you my heart or something? Maybe one of my kidneys?”

“More like your love-life. I’m a part of you that shouldn’t’ve ever been detached. You need me to live a normal, healthy life.”

“Should I even be talking to you? What if my little brother wakes up and sees you?”

“Nobody can ever see me but you. I was born in your brain. I’m here because you need me back in your life.”

So, from that moment on I was a teenager with an invisible playmate. He reminded me of all the things I had learned about the birds and the bees from Reverend Aiken, the Methodist minister. We talked about what sex was, and the role it had to play in a normal human life. We talked about what to do about girls and how I felt about them. Without consciously realizing it, I stopped burning myself.

His advice got me slapped by a girl I thought I liked. He also helped me avoid three different girls that were sorta chasing me, at least in my evil little brain. In college he would get me into and out of trouble with girls I both wanted to chase and were chasing me when I didn’t want to be caught.

When I had the assignment to create a life-sized nude portrait for anatomy drawing class, he picked out the girl he wanted me to ask to pose for it, and almost goaded me into asking her. I, of course, ended up drawing my sister with all her clothes on. And I didn’t fail the assignment. He also got me to sign up to pose for the art class in the nude. But fortunately I got the flu the week I was suppose to sit in front of all those female art students in my birthday suit… the best ten-dollar modeling fee I never collected.

My invisible faun was a kind of self-therapy, I guess. He brought the sensual side of me back to life. He healed me and made me more whole.

I seriously thought I had a lifelong invisible friend. But once I started telling other people, real people, about the sexual assault, he kinda faded away.

I have now probably confessed something that makes me clinically schizophrenic, or technically crazy. But Ra is still real to me in so many ways. I used his story as part of my book, A Field Guide to Fauns. And for me he was an imaginative and necessary cure for a very real problem.

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Filed under autobiography, feeling sorry for myself, finding love, humor, mental health, nudes, Paffooney

AeroQuest 4… Canto 116

Canto 116 – On the Rooftops

Tempi, one of Shen Ming’s messenger boys, spotted the intruder first.  He was riding on a PZ-27 anti-grav sled more commonly known as a pregnant penguin.  He was wearing a golden helmet with three spiked horns, just as Shen Ming had warned Tempi to look for.

“Master Shen!  Master Shen!  Your old enemy has come, like you thought he would!  What do we do?”

“Oh, my!  What, me, worry?  No, this is a job for the White Spider and his charges.  Run, Tempi, and warn young Master Shu or young Master Phoenix… or both!”

Tempi ran as fast as short legs could manage.

Shu Kwai was the first notified and the first to respond.  He found the helmeted intruder menacing a crowd of people in the courtyard with a pair of strange ray pistols. 

“Die, ugly, worthless Gaijin! In the name of the traitor Shen Ming, I slay thee!”

Shu immediately grabbed at the guns with his telekinesis powers, and though he couldn’t take the weapons away, he could pull the shots off target.  The rays splashed harmlessly on the palace walls and on the ground.  In fact, surprisingly damaging or burning nothing at all.

Swiftly Sara Smith was at Shu’s side.

“Can you grab his mind and put him out?” Shu said.

“No, I can’t.  His mind is shielded from my power in some strange way.  But I sense that as he fires, he doesn’t even try to hit his targets.  He’s… missing on purpose.”

Jadalaqstbr teleported into a group of children that were in danger in the middle of the courtyard.  She grabbed two boys by the arms and let a small girl wrap her arms around her neck.  Then she teleported them all to safety.

Shu and Sara gave chase as the intruder leaped up to the roof of the library.  Shu shielded them from the shots he took at the two of them, but they seemed to be incredibly weak shots.

Taffy King lifted herself up to the library roof and used her telekinesis to make a barrier that forced the helmeted stranger directly towards the trap that Phoenix had planned.

It was Phoenix and Rocket Rogers that stood at the end of the intruder’s path.

“Rocket!  The fire bubble to burn his oxygen!”

Rocket, at Phoenix’s command, sealed an air-tight dome of flaming air over the man and absorbed his ray-gun shots.

“Now, I drop him with heat…”

Phoenix’s temperature-spiking bolt took him down.

“You didn’t kill him, I hope?” asked Ged-sensei as he arrived at the scene.

Shen Ming arrived in time for the unmasking.

“Your messenger said this was some kind of old enemy, Shen-sensei,” said Ged.

“Ah, yes… yes.  Every three hundred years he comes around to threaten and maybe kill people seeking vengeance for something he imagines I did to wrong him.”

Of course, everybody present knew that Shen-sensei was more than nine hundred years old.  A vendetta that old was not surprising.

“So, you’ve never caught him before?” Ged asked.

“Oh, no… not quite like this…  This one is too old to remember his evil self, but he is called the Avenger.”

Phoenix pulled off the horned helmet.

“It’s Jai Chang our archery master!” said Ged in confusion.

“Hmm… now, that seems so unlikely.  I recall Master Jai is only thirty Earth years old.  A mystery this is…”

Shu noticed that the old man had a suspiciously jovial smile for the circumstances.

“We will take him to the infirmary and strap him down.  When he comes to we will learn more about what caused our faithful teacher to do this thing.”

Shu and Taffy picked Jai Chang up with telekinesis and floated him down from the roof and to the infirmary. Ged and his students looked at the inscrutable Shen-sensei and shook their heads in wonder.

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Why I Must Be a Spiritual Nudist

I do now admit to being a nudist… or naturist if you prefer. To me that means, if given a choice, I would prefer to be naked all the time. Especially in a natural setting outdoors. I have probably spent more time in the company of naked people than you have, even though I was never myself nude in a social setting until my one and only visit to the Bluebonnet Naturist Park in Alvord, Texas. I was a visitor at the clothing-optional apartment complex at Manor Road in Austin a number of times in the 1980s when my girlfriend’s sister was a resident there. They asked me to disrobe a couple of times, but, as a visitor, I exercised my option. And I corresponded with Floridian nudists by letter, email, and subscriptions to nudist publications through the 1990s.

“Nature Walk”

But it is very nearly an ironic notion that I am literally a nudist. My wife is opposed to nakedness for religious reasons. Although members of my family were fine with skinny-dipping in our pool until it developed fatal foundation cracks, we no longer tolerate nudity at home, except in the shower and the bedroom behind closed doors. And being naked outdoors, though it always used to be good for my health, now is a problem with my increased susceptibility to the return of skin cancer, and the fact that my psoriasis sores, in addition to being ghastly to look at, get dry, cracked, and bloody with a chance of infection far easier than they ever used to. And I have more of them.

If I am being honest, I am not really a literal nudist anymore. I don’t get naked much at all anymore. I do correspond via Twitter with other nudists, especially other nudist authors and cartoonists. But that has its down sides too. Twitter followers who are evangelical Christians un-follow me instantly when they actually see a nudist-friendly post or comment from me. Nudists are apparently among the vast multitudes of sinners destined for Hell. And being part of the Twitter-nudist community also seems to attract unwanted attention from those who love pornography, as well as those who wish to exploit the “prurient interests” of others (which, in my humble experience, is not the interests of real nudists.)

So…

I have always found it challenging to be an actual nudist. I do the best I can, but, as I have repeatedly written in other posts about the subject, I was sexually assaulted by an older boy when I was ten. I spent years overcoming an aversion to ever being seen naked by others.

That aversion prevented me from embracing a positive body image of myself for the rest of my childhood and well into my young adulthood. I was deprived of the joys of skinny-dipping in the Iowa River and being comfortable in my own skin. That was a definite drawback when it came to showers in school after P.E. Class, or showers after football, basketball, or track practice. I was robbed of my sense of naked childhood innocence. I felt like I had a terrible secret to keep, and I was secretly a monster for having naked feelings.

So, in order to be more like a valid, real person, Mickey, as a nudist, has committed himself to being a Spiritual Nudist. A Spiritual Nudist doesn’t hide anything by wearing clothing. A Spiritual Nudist is honest, and tells the naked truth. And a Spiritual Nudist doesn’t have to be actually naked to be Spiritually nude.

I may not now fit the definition of an actual, literal nudist anymore. But I can think like a nudist, tell nudist stories, and draw naked people (in a non-pornographic way). And like a real nudist, I no longer worry about what other people think. The naked truth is still the truth. And maybe even more-so than when people wear their clothes as if it were a disguise.

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Filed under autobiography, humor, irony, nudes, Paffooney

Hidden Kingdom… Chapter 2 Complete

Here is the link to the complete Chapter 1https://catchafallingstarbook.net/2018/11/24/hidden-kingdom-chapter-1-complete/

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The Art of the Paffooney

There was a rollerskating rink in the little town of Lake Cornelia in Iowa from the 1940’s until the 1980’s. The first time I went there as a ten-year-old learning to roller-skate for the very first time, I spent the entire time cleaning the dusty floor with the knees and seat of my pants. My parents could both skate with fantastic ease. Dad could even skate backwards. During the couples’ skate, when they turned the lights down and turned on the blinking colored lights, they didn’t merely skate, they danced in circles around the rink.

But I wanted desperately to skate like that. We went numerous times to that same rink that Summer of 1967. The second time I went there I had spent a couple of nights dreaming of myself successfully skating. And practicing in my dreams apparently worked. I could skate the complete oval of the rink, and I only fell down three times the entire couple of hours we were there. We went to the A&W drive-in for root beers to celebrate afterwards.

We kept skating and I kept improving. In 1969 the song “Sugar, Sugar” was a number one hit. It played at least five times a trip to the skating rink, often during the couples’ skate. That Cornelia skating rink was the place where I skated hand in hand with a girl during the couples’ skate for the very first time. To that song, of course.

That rink was also the site of my worst embarrassment in junior high school. I fell because of a dreaded gum-wad on the floor and split the inseam of my pants from the crotch all the way down the right leg. When I got up, the girl I had a crush on and three of her female friends got a good look at my fruit-of-the-looms. Strangely, nobody made fun of me for it afterwards. The rink manager came up with enough safety pins to hold my pants together for the remaining hour of skate time. Embarrassed within an inch of my life being over, I was still not going to miss out on skating-time,

I hadn’t thought about skating in long time. I am not able to do it anymore with arthritis in my knees and feet. But this old colored-pencil drawing of a girl I once adored on roller skates brought the memory of it back again. It is a permanent part of who I am. A core memory. A foundation-stone in the edifice of Mickey-ness.

And a picture I have made with the story that goes along with it is what a Paffooney is. If you want to see more examples of Paffoonies I have created, you can do a Google picture-search of “Beyer Paffooney” and you will see a lot of them, mostly linked directly back to this blog. It is word I invented that nobody else is using (as far as I know), and so, it functions as a sort of magic word for my silly little blog.

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