Category Archives: humor

My Current Novel Project -Sing Sad Songs

Here is a sample chapter from my rough draft to give you an idea of how this nonsense is progressing.

Blue Dawn

Canto 25 – Wish Upon a Star

I honestly was just minding my own business.  The bar, I mean.  I was minding the bar.  Ugly Bill and his idiot child were talking to the FBI somewhere they didn’t bother to inform me about.  Orgus, Bill’s truck-driving uglier son was in the hospital.  And my brother Richard was home in front of the TV pretending to be sick or something.  It was just me, Captain Noah Dettbarn, and an amazing number of unwashed glasses in a business that hardly ever had customers enough to get multiple glasses dirty.

The Captain was busy with his one and only bottle for the day, probably thinking about the South Seas Islands where he used to go by cargo ship.  A place where palm trees swayed in the breeze and tropical girls danced in grass skirts with no tops on.  I envied his memories.  So much more colorful than small-town Iowa in October.  Why did it always seem to be October in Iowa, anyway?  Sweater weather and cold snaps and early frost.

But my regrets and glass-washing were interrupted by the whole gaggle of Norwall Pirates coming into the bar where they really weren’t supposed to be.

Billy was leading the way, followed by that danged Ricky kid.  I knew he would be back.  And Francois and little silent black kid and then the two girls, Mary and Val.

“Ricky wants to try the singing machine,” Billy said.  “Would that be okay? Please?”

I glared at them all.  “What have I got to lose?  The instruction book is on top of it.  And if Ricky breaks it, Ricky’s daddy the cop has to pay for it.”

Ricky grinned at me.  “You know he don’t have no money, right?”

So, like a flock of pigeons or a gaggle of geese they circled around the clunky Japanese squawker box and started chirping and arguing and other things that were hard to ignore.  I couldn’t help but notice how pretty young Valerie really was.  Even in baggy Fall clothes, she had a body and face that were going to take her far in life and going to break more than one heart.  I wondered if she was in any danger from the Teddy Bear Killer that Ugly Bill was going to help capture.  Of course, I knew the pervert only killed boys.  Still, I had to wonder.

“So that’s what you have to do,” Billy was explaining from the manual.  “And now all you have to do is pick one, put the number in, and sing.”

“I try first!” Sang out Ricky.

“Don’t you wanna let the deaf kid sing first?” I asked.  “I have never heard his voice.”

“Uncle Victor, you know he can’t speak except in sign language.”  Billy was glaring back at me.  That skinny little hairball on stick legs was trying to correct my social skills.  Nuts to that.  I ate a few more antacid tablets.

“That would be perfect for me,” I grumbled to myself.

“Here’s the one I want,” Ricky declared, “Steppenwolf, Born to be Wild.”

Billy helped him type in the right series of numbers, then the screeching began.

“Get your motor running…!” he bellowed like a moose during mating season.  “Head out on the highway…”

I regretted not buying earplugs when I bought the damned karaoke thingy.  I regretted it almost as much as not being on a South Sea island with girls in grass skirts and no tops.

“Looking for adventure…!”  I started fixating on counting the bar glasses on the counter behind me, anything but listening to that moose-mating noise pollution.  I also re-stacked the coasters and cleaned the peanut bowls.  I successfully refocused my attention to totally ignore Ricky destroying that song.

“Oh, gawd!  I only get twenty-five percent on that score?  I thought I sang better than that!”

“That was pretty awful, Rick,” Valerie said diplomatically.

Ricky looked angry, but everybody else was nodding agreement.  So, the kid gave up and pressed the microphone into Francois’s hand.  The French boy entered a code surprisingly quickly.

“When you wish upon a star…”

My beloved Jesus!  It was electrifyingly good right from the very first note.

“Makes no difference who you are…”

They were all listening with their mouths open.

“Anything your heart desires… will come to you…”

Even the Captain was listening.  I swear I saw tears in his old red eyes.

“If your heart is in your dreams… no request is too extreme…”

I couldn’t help but think about how depressed this kid had been since I brought him here.  He’d lost his whole family.  He’d been in the back seat of the car with them when they had died.  He’d been sleeping hour after hour at our house because he was too sad to do anything but dream.  And here he was putting his whole soul into a song about dreams and wishes and stars… and I… um… I was about to cry too when he hit that last long beautiful note.

The song ended, and everyone was stunned.  The machine put fireworks on the screen and scored him one hundred percent.

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“Sing it again,” said Valerie, softly.  It was the only thing anyone could say.  And then he sang it again, just as amazingly beautiful as the first time.  And he scored one hundred again.  Everyone was sniffling or openly crying because it was so touching.  Especially pretty little Valerie who had lost her own father only a couple of years ago.  Her cheeks were dripping wet.

“Vicar, you gotta have him sing that again tonight,” said the Captain.  “People have got to hear that.  I mean… gawd dang!  That was amazing!  I gotta bring folks here to hear that.”

And I knew he was right.  That was not something we could afford to keep to ourselves.  That kid had real talent.

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Filed under clowns, humor, music, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

Braindrain With a Side-Order of Lethargy

Because of weather, depression, and dealing with a wounded automobile, I have been having trouble getting writing done lately.  I mean, me, the goof who writes every day and claims to never have writer’s block, is having trouble with being motivated enough the write things.

It is entirely possible that it is due to an improper diet.  I mean, I haven’t been eating well this week.  Having to squeeze the food budget to be able to pay all the bills this month is a part of the problem.  The effect intermittent rain and heat have on my appetite could also be at least partly to blame.  I stress eat, and am not always smart enough to depend on peanuts and peanut butter to get me through the problem.

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I realize I need to eat protein to aid my brain, and fruits and vegetables so that my diabetes will slow itself down in the process of eating my brain.  That process can make you a bit stupid.

I am also quite aware that eating food that has eyeballs and mouths and occasionally cat ears is also a bad idea for dietary propriety.  Especially if it can also talk to me.  Do non-cartoonists also have this problem?

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Eating right with Ramen noodles as seen in the movie Ponyo.

All right, I admit it.  My writing problems probably don’t stem from eating cartoon food.  Or eating food in a cartoon for that matter, a thing I haven’t tried in real life.  But the whole cartoon food allusion has gotten me halfway to 500 words today.  So it is worth something.  And the real solution to the problem has been to just sit down and clack away at the keyboard, even if the only thing it yields is foofy nonsense.  (And I know “foofy” isn’t even a real word, but WordPress counted it anyway.)  I managed to write today simply by doing it.

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Filed under blog posting, commentary, goofiness, humor, strange and wonderful ideas about life, writing, writing humor

Questionable Progress

After four days of working on getting my car fixed, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel.  I have not gotten it into the shop yet.  I still have to climb over the middle divider from the passenger door because neither door on the left side of my car can be opened.  Both are bent and jammed.

But the gaggle of insurance agents squabbling over who pays for it all is beginning to sound like I might not have to shoulder the entire burden myself.  There is a consensus that the accident was not my fault.  (Probably due to the fact that the police officer making the accident report clearly stated it was the other goofball’s fault in his written report.)  So, Geico, the perpetrator’s insurance, has generously agreed to pay 85 percent of the cost of repair and rental car.  (85 percent???  Why not a hundred???  Apparently, because I couldn’t testify with 100 percent certainty with my hand on a Bible that I had my lights on at a quarter to noon in the rain, even though I am in the habit of having my lights turned on even if it is just cloudy and would’ve automatically turned them off when I got out of the car to prevent the warning dinger from dinging.  That should cost me $300, right?)  My insurance agent from Progressive is willing to argue all the way to arbitration that I deserve 100% coverage, especially since Geico is paying for it, and Uber also stands ready to be coerced to pay if need be because I was on my way to pick up a meal delivery at the time of the accident.

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So, I am hopeful in a pessimistic sort of way that I am not going to be socked with another bill that is higher than my emergency fund (which I maintain on the orders of my bankruptcy lawyer).

But it is not only good news about car repair that I am finding questionable today.  I have also made progress on a stubborn printer/scanner that has been failing to work properly since I bought it new.  I discovered I needed to go online to download an HP printer driver, not once, but twice.  Apparently, it had been rendered useless because just after I downloaded and made it work the day I bought the thing, HP decided to update that software with critical patches that I did not have.  So, the second download allowed me to discover…

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…That the scanner bed was still too small to scan the size of art needed to scan my graphic novel and get that usefully re-created through scans on the internet.  You can see the cover is too large to scan the whole thing in one go.  I am, however, tricksy enough to scan it in parts and paste the whole together with the paint and art editing tools I already have on the computer.  I intend to start doing that to get Hidden Kingdom up and running on my Dungeons and Dragons Saturday posts.

Here’s an adjusted scan to increase my ability to copy and paste a whole together from parts…

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It should be easy to quilt together the artwork over time and provide a view not grayed out by having to reproduce the black and white pen and ink art in shades of gray, the way I must if I try to do the thing photographically.

And I can definitely say that scanned art is better than photographed art.

I have included a couple more scans to prove the point.

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Filed under angry rant, art editing, feeling sorry for myself, grumpiness, humor, Paffooney

Aeroquest… Canto 33

Aeroquest banner x

Canto 33 – Dance of the Two Spiders

      Naylund Smith was dressed in a formal silk jacket with an embroidered Japanese-style phoenix raising its wings across the chest and turning to flaming ashes on the back.  A white chord ran down the left leg of the blue silk pants and ended in an embroidered white spider, the first time Ged was to see the White Spider’s personal logo on anything.

Ged couldn’t help but admire the strong-looking, erect posture of this amazing man.  He wore a gold earring in his left ear; his head was shaved and hairless except for white eyebrows, a white bun at the very back of the head, and a white goatee.  The man’s iron-gray eyes glared like the stare of an eagle.  Only the golden walking stick hinted at any weakness in the man, and he never seemed to lean upon it.

“The web of space is locked in an ever-expanding spiral dance,” said Naylund as ceremonial armor was strapped to Ged’s arms and chest.  “The spiders that move from strand to strand are merely a counterpoint to the great dancing flow of the web itself.  When spiders contend for space on the web, then the dance reaches its most violent and most beautiful point.  I cannot help you with the next few steps of the dance.  The prophecy says that you will be victorious, but no prophecy is ever absolute unless it can be proven to come from God himself.”

“You sound like I am about to have some kind of duel,” said Ged cautiously.  “I thought this was just a welcoming ceremony.”

“It is that.  It is also deadly serious.”

Little Ham Aero Junior was brought to Ged dressed in a milk-white kimono, and an embroidered white spider picked out in light blue covered the heart.  The female attendants left him with Ged.

“I am to stand with you, Ged-sensei,” the boy said.

“Did Frieda teach you to speak so well?” Ged asked the little Nebulon.

“No.  I learned your language long ago by telepathy.”

“Why didn’t you ever teach it to your mother?”

“She hardly ever spoke to me.  I was nothing but a reminder to her of the shame of her servitude.”

“I’m so sorry for you, Junior.”

“Don’t be.  Now I belong to you and you belong to me.  I will stand at your side and die rather than leave you.”

“A very handsome and noble child,” said Naylund.  “He deserves to be treated well by you, Ged.”

“Don’t worry, Naylund-sensei.  I am learning to love my nephew too.”  Ged smiled at Junior.

Naylund motioned to Ged to leave the tent where he had been dressed in armor.  He was now done up in the armor of a Japanese daimyo or feudal lord, a samurai.  He had everything but the demon mask on him.

As Ged, Naylund and Junior stepped out into the arena, 40,000 people cheered.  Ged was stunned to see so many people.  Being a spacer meant being alone more often than with other people.  He’d never in his life been with so many at once.

“Behold!  The so-called White Spider,” said a man across from Ged in the arena.  He gestured with a silver katana sword to Ged and his two companions.  “What do you say that I test this gaijin?  Do you really believe he is the white spider?”

The crowd roared that they did believe.

“Well, we shall see,” said the man, drawing his katana in front of him.

“He will now try to kill you, Ged,” said Naylund.  “If he succeeds, he will kill the boy and me as well.”

“But, wait!” said Ged.  “I am unarmed!”  He sounded panicky.

“According to prophecy,” said Naylund, “that’s not supposed to be a problem.”

“I am the Black Spider,” shouted the man.  Ged noticed his black silk robes bore a red spider-symbol on the chest.  “I will kill you now, Ged Aero!”

The man charged at Ged with lightning speed.  He was obviously martial-arts trained, and knew precisely what to do.  Ged tried to dodge, but the katana came down on his right shoulder in a perfect arc.  Ged’s right arm was neatly severed at the shoulder.

The crowd gasped.  Ged fell to his knees gasping also.  Junior tried to run to him, but Naylund grabbed him and firmly held him.

“Patience, little one.  Ged must pass this test himself.”

Ged’s mind swirled, but fixed on an image from his mind implanted there when Tara helped him return to his rightful form.  His inner eye sharpened and fixed the image with crystal clarity.  Immediately the arm grew back into place.  The crowd was silent with shock.

“So!” said the Black Spider.  “You are a magician!  It will help you not!  I have killed many magicians before you.”

Ged didn’t bother to listen.  Power was surging through him.  He could feel the rightness of each shape as it came to him.

“Tara?” said Junior, amazed at what he saw.  Ged had changed first into the lithe figure of Tara Salongi so that the bulky clothing and armor would fall away.  Then, as the nude female Ged stepped free of the binding clothing, he was already turning into the fearsome raptor dinosaur from Don’t Go Here.

“Try this!” cried the Black Spider as he leaped onto Ged’s scaly back and tried to sever the saurian head.  Ged’s clawed foot nimbly came up and swept the attacker off, as easily as a horse knocks flies off his flanks with a twitching tail.  The other clawed foot found the Black Spider as he hit the ground, the wicked hook slicing into the flesh of his stomach.

The Black Spider wobbled to his feet again, defiant and angry.  His intestines began to droop out of his wound. “Good trick, spider, but I’m not beaten yet!”

Even as the Black Spider was bragging, Ged remembered one other beast he had been forced to kill and eat.  He morphed almost immediately into a Samothracian Shadowcat, one of the most difficult creatures he had ever hunted.  On the colorful planet of Samothrace, with its many xeno-flowers, shadowcats had developed the ability to change color so masterfully; they could practically disappear from view.  As soon as the first paw touched the sand of the arena floor, Ged shimmered and disappeared.

“What?  Where…?” cried the Black Spider, swinging his sword wildly.  Attacks battered him from three sides.  Ged it seemed, had turned into the wind.  It looked like puffs of air were slashing the Black Spider; until finally, the sword fell from his hand and the Black Spider fell dead and thoroughly bloodied.  Ged remained invisible so as not to disgust the crowd as he replenished himself by feeding on the flesh of the enemy.  He also ate his own severed arm before he finally reappeared in his own form.

Naked, he quickly dressed in the samurai armor once again, though not bothering with the many straps and ties.  The crowd was utterly silent, which left Ged wondering what it meant.

Shen Ming approached solemnly, holding two sheathed swords in his hands.

“You have done well, my son.  Take your swords of office.”

Ged humbly received the swords from Shen-sensei.  He bowed.  There was a beautiful silver katana with a white ivory pommel and a smaller golden wakizashi with a blue woven pommel.  The crowd now began to cheer riotously.

“I have defeated the Black Spider?” asked Ged of Naylund.

“You have defeated the first of many Black Spiders, Ged-sama.  We will never be at a loss for villains.”

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Oyif!!! Life Smacks in the Fast Lane

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I was feeling good after making arrangements to pay off the IRS and both of my hospital bills over time in amounts that I could squeeze out of my present retirement income.  Then a random act of stupidity in the rain deprived me of my ability to earn extra money through driving for Uber.

I was driving north in the rain towards the meal delivery I had from Panda Express.  I was in the left-hand lane driving next to the median on the divided part of Josey Lane.  I was in no way expecting to need any defensive driving measures.  In fact, I wouldn’t have succeeded if I had been able to react.  The other driver turned directly into my drivers-side doors, effectively sealing both of them so they could not be opened.  He told me he didn’t see me in the rain.  I suppose it is possible that was true, but I don’t see how considering how clearly I saw him at the last moment.

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Sudden surprise bangs and damage are not particularly good for diabetics, either.  I got pulled off into the parking lot, canceled my Uber delivery, and had the shakes so bad that I could barely call 911.  My fingers didn’t work properly.

But by the time the ambulance had arrived, my brief battle with shock was over.  My blood sugar checked out fine in the ambulance and they let me talk to the police and then drive my damaged-but-still-drivable car home.

Now I have the nightmare of dealing with insurance and how I am going to pay for it.

My wife tells me that since the accident obviously wasn’t my fault, I shouldn’t have to pay for any of the damages.  Of course, we all know that in the buccaneering world of American insurance, that is not how it works.

So now I can honestly report that I am physically okay, and financially in worse jeopardy.  Such is the way the life of Mickey is apparently intended to work out.

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Filed under angry rant, feeling sorry for myself, humor, Paffooney

I’m a Kangaroo Kid

Bob Keeshan, better known as Captain Kangaroo, would not like my title.  He wanted them to be referred to as “children” not “kids”.  The reasons were obvious.  “Kid” refers to a baby goat.  It’s all about the words.  It’s all about respect and propriety.

4e087cfa232cf.image But Bob Keeshan, though a TV personality, was much more of a teacher than anything else.  His show went on air before I was born, and I don’t remember a moment in my childhood that he wasn’t a part of it.  He was like Mr. Rogers, but came into our lives even before Fred Rogers appeared on the scene.  I watched the show in the mornings before school started, at a time when I walked all the way across our little Iowa farm town to get to school.  He taught me important early lessons in life that were just as impactful as the math and language and social skills I was getting later in the day.  Of course, I had to leave home for school before the show ended at 8:00 a,m. But just like school, watching and participating in any part of it was capable of teaching you something good.

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A lot of what I was able to do successfully as a teacher is a result of how Captain Kangaroo taught me.  He taught me to deliver information in small bites that a young learner with a short attention span could fully digest.  He taught me how to capture attention.  He did it with puppets, a moose, a bunny, and a dancing bear all thanks to Cosmo Allegretti, a versatile and multi-talented performer.  He could focus attention by letting Mr. Moose drop ping pong balls on his head.  Whatever came next after the moment of mirth was something I paid attention to.

He also helped us learn science.  Mr. Greenjeans in his low-key, deadpan way would teach us about eating vegetables, how farmers cultivate plants, and how to handle various small animals like kittens, rabbits, and even ferrets.  Mr. Greenjeans got seriously bitten by a lion cub on camera.  He simply stuck his bleeding finger in his pocket and went on with the show.  Yes, the man was a veteran in more ways than one.  (He was a Marine in WWII.)

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And Captain Kangaroo taught me how to share a book.  I became very good at reading aloud to students because Bob Keeshan and the crew that worked for him showed me how to read with expression, separate dialogue from narration, and build the excitement with pace and voice modulation.  They were experts at reading aloud.

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So, I say this with no disrespect, only veneration.  “I am a Kangaroo kid.”  I watched the show and internalized it.  I developed deep pockets like the ones in Bob Keeshan’s jacket that gave him the name Captain Kangaroo, and I stored many treasures from the Treasure House there that I would later share with my students.

 

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Filed under art criticism, artists I admire, autobiography, clowns, education, heroes, humor, reading, review of television, TV as literature

Computerrific Discombobbula

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Technology is supposed to be your friend.   But the last few days have proved repeatedly that computers are definitely not Mickey’s friends.  They don’t seem to like him even a little bit.

The problem seems to stem from making the mistake of taking my beloved old laptop to Iowa.  My daughter was the only family member who could go along on the vacation to see Grampa and Gramma.  And her laptop now consists of a broken laptop body with no keyboard linked to a wifi-linkable keyboard and wifi-linkable used-television monitor.  That computer was not exactly in a portable condition.  I suggested she could replace the sticky-used-chewing-gum connections when she got to Iowa, but she wouldn’t risk it.

So the decision was made to take both my old laptop with the barely living battery and my backup cheap Walmart laptop for her to use.  We made it to Iowa with my beloved old laptop still able to boot up on the barely living battery.  I had tried to replace the battery by purchasing a new one directly from HP online.  But it was delayed enough that we couldn’t get it before leaving.  Still, the car trip didn’t completely kill the dying battery I had.  So I used it to save and edit pictures from the Wright County Fair and write my daily posts while visiting in Iowa.  A successful trip by internet-addicted idiots according to the uninformed standards I was apparently judging it by.

But on returning home to Texas, disaster struck totally by laptop.

First of all, the dying battery expired as soon as I tried to fire up Old Beloved on our return home.  And then I learned that the battery I had bought to revive it was an out-of-stock discontinued item at the HP factory.  My order had been canceled.  They gave me a line on a company that provided discontinued parts, but I did not have the money to swing that at the end of the month.  So that went on hold.

My backup laptop had now become my new Old Beloved.  But for the life of me, I couldn’t remember any of my old passwords for practically everything on the internet.  So, I spent a week recovering online accounts on my new Old Beloved.  That was hectic and un-swell.  But I reached a point where most of my August bills were paid or scheduled to be paid, and I was settling into my old routine again when I discovered the terrible mistake I had made.  My daughter had keyed everything on the new Old Beloved to her Google account.  I had been saving all my new passwords to her account rather than my own.  Oh, beehoofadoo!  Whoever would’ve thought that such world-rattling consequences could befall me because of such an innocent mistake?  There was a point at which I had no way back into my email account because it was no longer tied to my cell phone or current computer, and there were no means for recovering it, not even by using voodoo.  Then I happened to remember an account I had set up solely to get back into Pinterest in 2016.  I was able to log back into that and use it to get recovery codes for everything that either I or my daughter had destroyed or deleted because of the Google mix-up.

Last night my beloved daughter wanted the old password for our Hulu account to put it on her Frankencomputer, and after all I have been through in my own personal cyberwar, I nearly lost it.  Fear not.  My daughter still lives with her eardrums intact.  And no damage remains from the top of my head blowing off that couldn’t be fixed with duck tape and super glue.

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Filed under angry rant, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney, satire