Category Archives: humor

Why I Must Be a Spiritual Nudist

This is actually a repost of an older essay since I am ill again and fighting to think in between coughing fits. Where this says I have only been naked once at the nudist park, that is no longer true as I have revisited the same park with my AANR membership.

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

The First Year as a Teacher

My proudest achievement of my thirty-one year years as a public school teacher was the fact that I survived my whole first year. That doesn’t sound like much to you unless you are a teacher. But it sounds even more amazing if you knew what South Texas junior high schools were like in 1981. I mean, my school, Frank Newman Junior High had practically been destroyed the year before I started teaching there by the seventh graders I would be teaching as eighth graders.

You see some of my favorites in the painting I did during my third year as a teacher. From front to back they are Dottie, Teresa, Ruben, Fabian, and Javier. Of course, in these essays about being a teacher, I usually don’t use real names to protect the privacy of my former students, both the innocent and the guilty. So, I leave it to you to decide whether, even though I love these kids, those aren’t probably their real names. Unless… they are.

But not all Texas eighth graders are loveable people. In fact, they are hard on first-year rookie teachers. Especially the ones with a Midwestern faith that they can step in and change the world with their idealistically pure and golden teaching methods. Those teachers they will try to eat alive.

I followed the seventh grade English teacher in the same classroom with the same kids. They made her scream daily, had classroom fist fights weekly, exploded firecrackers under her chair twice during the year, and made her run away to the San Antonio airport and leave teaching behind forever. As ninth graders, they made their English I teacher leave teaching forever even though she was a three-year veteran. And believe me, they tried to do the same to me.

I foiled them constantly by being an on-your-feet-all-day teacher rather than a sit-behind-the-desk-and-yell teacher like my predecessor. After I had a chance to sit during planning period, I always had to clean thumbtacks, tape, and smeared chocolate bars off the seat of my little wooden teacher chair. Paper airplanes were the least gross things that flew through the air. Boogers, spit-wads, spit-wet pieces of chalk, and brown things you had to hope were chewed chocolate flew constantly whenever you had your back turned to them. And if there was only one kid behind you and you turned on him and asked pointedly, “Who threw that?” The kid, of course, saw nothing, has no idea, you can torture him, and he still won’t know anything because you are a lousy teacher and didn’t make him learn anything.

And lessons were mostly about talking over the malevolent tongue-wigglers. They didn’t listen. Not even to each other. One kid would be talking about monster trucks that shoot fire out of their exhaust pipes while the kid next to him was talking at the same time about whether Flipper is properly called a dolphin or a porpoise, or like his older brother says, “a giant penis-fish.” And the girls behind them are actually hearing each other, but only because they are speculating which boy in the classroom has the cutest butt.

I broke up three fights by myself that year, one of which I got slugged in the back of the head by the aggressor during, teaching me to always get between them facing the aggressor and never being wrong about who the aggressor is.

They don’t let you do much teaching at all your first year. They force you to practice discipline by keeping them all seated at the same time with their books open in front of them. “I don’t do literature,” Ernie Lozano told me. Well, to be accurate, none of them actually did literature that year. But they taught me to survive long enough to learn how to actually teach them something.

On the last day of school that year we gave them all extended time on the playground, using the outdoor basketball court to keep them occupied for long enough for a terrible school year to finally run its course. They didn’t set the school on fire that year. They didn’t break into the office that year and steal all the cash. We did well enough at keeping them under control that year that I got rehired and our principal got promoted to high school principal. I had a decision to make that year. Would I keep teaching? Or find another job? Sixty percent of all first-year teachers in Texas in 1982 quit teaching. I only earned $11,000 that year. Did I really want to continue down that dark path for another school year?

Ruben walked up to stand beside me and watch the bigger eighth graders foul each other on the basketball court. “You know, Mr. Beyer, you were my favorite teacher this year.”

“Thank you, Ruben. I needed to hear that.” I bit my lip to keep from crying.

That was when I made the decision. I stuck it out in that same school and district for the next 23 years. I became the head of the Cotulla Middle School English Department. I moved to the Dallas area for family reasons in 2004, but I would teach for eight more years in two more districts and in three more schools. But all of that is Ruben’s fault. Because that was the most important thing anyone ever said to me as a teacher. And I did hear it more than once. But he was the first.

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Filed under education, humor, kids, Paffooney, teaching

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

Toons Are Easy

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Filed under cartoons, feeling sorry for myself, humor, Paffooney

People in My Head at the Moment

Anita Jones

As a writer seriously immersed in a particular work in progress, I find myself talking more and more to certain people who exist only in my head. They are the characters in my novel, The Boy… Forever.

The novel is itself an epistolary novel. That means, like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, it is made up of letters, notes, diary and journal entries, and other personal writing of the central characters. It also means that I have to become the different people who write these things. At least while I create each individual artifact that goes into the mosaic of first-person narratives.

Anita Jones, pictured here, is the letter-writer who starts the plot in motion when she gets a very disturbing letter from her cousin, Icarus Jones.

Icarus writes about his problem with becoming a midget, and his response to it being a plan to kill himself. It seems that he simply stopped growing at the age of ten. Now, being a fifteen-year-old in the body of a ten-year-old, he writes a suicide note in the form of a letter, and then goes to jump off a bridge into the Mississippi River. But when he does, he survives. Or, rather, he succeeds, but cannot remain dead. He doesn’t know it, yet, but he has become a human mutation known in the secret world of unknown things as an Immortal.

Tian Long, the Celestial Dragon

Icky’s problem becomes worse when it is discovered he is being pursued by another immortal, a sort of vampiric immortal who needs to consume the essence of other immortals to stay alive. He is a three-thousand-year-old Chinese Celestial Dragon who is able to assume a human form.

Neither Icky Jones nor Tian Long the dragon, though, really needs to be in my head. Icarus himself only writes the first and last letters of the book. Tian Long, the villain, does not have a say at all in telling the story. The only part of it he writes are the wizard spells he uses to confound everyone, and most of those are in Chinese.

Milton John Morgan, the Wizard of the Norwall Pirates

Besides the letters that Anita Jones writes to her cousin in Dallas, Dot Jones, the story is also advanced in the journal entries of Milt Morgan, one of the leaders of the boys’ gang in rural Iowa known as the Norwall Pirates. He has been asked by the Freshman English teacher to keep a daily journal and write every day in 1976. This he struggles to do, but gains writing and typing skills as he goes along, especially when he befriends Icarus and learns about the dragon pursuing Icky.

Milt is full of imagination and a sense of adventure, a thing that makes him an unreliable narrator, not above embellishing the truth as he writes his not-so-much- daily-as-infrequent journal entries.

Brent “the Cat” Clarke

The story is also taken up by Brent Clarke, the leader of the Norwall Pirates. Brent wants to be a policeman or a detective or something like that when he grows up. He takes careful investigation notes on everything, and he is the first one to become suspicious of the Chinese man and his step-daughter who pick a house in the town of Norwall that they want to live in right before the actual owner and occupant of the house mysteriously dies in a falling accident. Brent befriends the local Sheriff’s Deputy and sets out on a serious possible murder investigation that yields some very disturbing results. His notes are very detail-oriented and generally fact-based. He carefully records his own eye-witness accounts of everything.

Sherry Cobble, the nudist, calls herself the smarter and more beautiful twin.

Sherry Cobble, the more outgoing of the identical twins known as the Cobble Sisters, is a happy nudist with a very positive body image for herself and her twin sister. She is a very positive person over-all. She and her sister Shelly had started out keeping a “Lovely Nudist’s Diary” between them, but Shelly is not nearly as interested in writing and storytelling as her sister. So, Sherry takes over the diarist duties with the same sort of glee and enthusiasm she has for promoting nudism to her friends, especially the Norwall Pirates. It is her goal to eventually see all of the kids in Norwall naked and happy just as she and her sister Shelly always are.

Those four different character voices are the main voices I have to work with in telling this fantasy adventure story in much the same way as Stoker tells the story of Dracula.

So, if I begin to seem like I have a disordered mind full of multiple personalities, it’s because I am a novelist, not a mental patient or a vampire or even a Chinese dragon in human form. I am simply trying to tell a story by allowing four distinctly different characters to live inside my head.

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Filed under characters, humor, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, surrealism, work in progress, writing humor

AeroQuest 5… Canto 155

Canto 155 – The Killer Clowns of Mingo

“Let me introduce myself.  I am Smiley Creaturefeature, Imperial Harlequin of the Triumvirate now present on Mingo!”

A second Harlequin also stepped through the ruined doorway.  “And I am Sharpwhistle Crackplatter, his second in command.”

The two costumed cyborgs both switched on a feature of their armor simultaneously and immediately sent the entire hallway into chaos.  Flashing and strobing colored lights along with barely audible sonic waves warped the senses of all the Psions the cyborgs faced, and Emperor Mong even couldn’t get his pants pulled back up.

Phoenix and Rocket both ignited their fire forms, but neither was able to see through their own flames because of the constant color-changing lights.

Jackie was unable to concentrate enough to teleport. The sonic waves kept her from using her inner eye.

Shu could pick up rocks and debris, but his telekinetic senses were fooled enough by the lights that he couldn’t accurately target anything.

Ged’s senses also were overwhelmed.  But he took a moment to think, letting Smiley and Sharpwhatsit cartwheel around him and his distressed students.  He didn’t particularly care what they maybe wanted to do to Mong.

Now, the Blind Kraken of Jargoon was a creature with no sense of sight or capability of hearing.  It’s tentacles were guided by a superb heat-sensory organ that could identify shapes and locations of both hot and cool things  And the amphibious creature had no problem being completely out of the water for long periods of time.  And Ged had both hunted and eaten one more than an Earth decade ago.

“What is that blobby white thing?” Smiley said to Sharpwhatsit.

“Dunno… but it don’t look bullet-proof.”

Both Harlequins whipped out slug-throwing weapons called machine guns and filled the air with projectiles.  Ged used several of his twenty tentacles to shift his writhing students out of harm’s way while his gelatinous body absorbed and digested all the slugs that hit him.

“It seems to like that!” shouted Sharpwhatsit as he did a handspring and cast the machine gun aside.

“Lasers, then?” asked Smiley.

“Lasers, yes!” answered the other clown.

The medium-laser pistols they both pulled out fired hot laser light at Ged’s shape-changing body.  He not only absorbed the attacks, the extra heat energy he absorbed made his tentacles quicker.

The first catch was Smiley Creaturefeature’s right ankle.  The second catch was Smiley’s gun hand.  Then he poured megajoules of heat energy into Smiley’s limbs, completely melting his muscle-control circuits. He was completely immobilized though he was still alive in the way that cyborgs are alive, He was out of the battle.

“I will avenge you, Smiley,” hollered Sharpwhatsit.  He cast away the laser and pulled out a vibro-sword.  Each tentacle that Ged reached out with was immediately lopped off and rendered useless.

But the Electric Coil Monster of New Spain had once been hunted by Ged and his brother, and then dissected for the scientist that hired them.  Ged knew it inside out.

When Sharpwhistle Crackplatter’s blade embedded itself in Ged’s coil, he sent a lightning charge of electricity coursing through the surprised dancing clown.  He fell writhing to the floor, all his circuits shorting out, making him as dead as an undead cyborg can technically be.

The students, no longer incapacitated by the Harlequins, stood around Ged as he transformed back into his human form.

“I hope we don’t have to overcome any more of those things,” said Phoenix.

“You should go after the Triumvirs that have your girlfriend right now before they call up any more of those terrible monsters,” whined Mong, still sniveling.

“Lead us there,” Ged commanded.

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Filed under aliens, heroes, humor, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, satire, science fiction

Mickian Fantasy Art

There is a reason why anything in my artwork starting with a rabbit is assumed to be autobiographical. I raised rabbits as a 4-H project from about the age of 10 and we kept rabbits in pens until I was finishing my undergraduate degree. (Rabbit chores fell to my little brother when I was away from home.) In many ways, I was a rabbit-man. My personal avatar as a school teacher was Reluctant Rabbit.

The panda known as Mandy in my cartoon world is an avatar of my wife, an immigrant from the Pandalore Islands.

There is often an exaggerated sense of adventure in my cartoonally weird Paffoonies, the very name of which is a fantasy word.

I have been known to actually believe gingerbread can be magical enough for gingerbread men to come to life once baked. It is the reason I bite the legs off first, so they can’t run away.

I have been known to see elves, fairies, and numerous other things that aren’t really there. In fact, a whole secret hidden kingdom of them inhabited the schoolyard in Iowa where I attended grades K through 6. They were all mostly three inches tall. The biggest ones, like dragons reaching only about six inches tall at their largest.

Of course I am afraid of death, evil, and… (shudder) mummies.
I think of art and story-telling as a form of music. I am a troubadour whose songs (like this one) are often completely silent.
My fantasy art tends to be more “comic book” than “art gallery”.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, cartoons, cartoony Paffooney, colored pencil, humor, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, surrealism

Writing and Netflix

Like many writers, I have a plethora of weird voices in my head, constantly criticizing me, making jokes out of me doing ordinary things like brushing my teeth with the old brush my daughter used to scrub mud off her sneakers, characters who have actually come to life in my head and are constantly telling me stories about themselves… Good golly! Maybe many writers don’t hear these voices and I am simply nearly insane.

But, this is to be expected. I am a Baby Boomer. A child of the ’50s. So, I was raised by the black-and-white television. “I Love Lucy“, “My Three Sons“, and “The Munsters” taught me morals and an ability to laugh at myself. I learned about History, Politics, and the World from Walter Cronkite, the ultimate neutral news commentator. I also learned a lot about story-telling from old movies on Saturday afternoon. Television gave me empathy, knowledge of the world, and a boost to my imagination that I wouldn’t have had if I had been a child a generation earlier. Of course, I know it would also have been very different if I had been an internet child like my own children are. There is presently such a flood of free facts available that our information-soaked little brains are often drowning.

So, why am I talking about television today?

This coming week is a week spent alone. I was left behind with the dog as the rest of my family took a trip to Florida. It was my own choice. I am not capable of sitting in a car for long enough to make the car trip from North Texas to Central Florida. And I did not want to keep them from going. Days of good health are long ago and fading from memory.

So, I am left behind with time to write and time to watch whatever I want to on Netflix.

And this is useful because… well, I am a child of good television. I can work on my two WIP projects at once with Netflix series and movies in between word-munching sessions. I can be totally immersed in the writing act. I can write naked anywhere in the house (with the windows closed) without hearing complaints or distress from my non-nudist wife and my embarrassed-by-their-parents kids. It is almost as good as being well enough to go with them.

And Netflix (as well as, soon I hope, Disney Plus) affords me a chance to select exactly what I want to watch in ways that television on three networks, the way it used to be, could not provide. It is a chance to time-travel, to explore, to reach new levels of laughter and understanding… as well as tears. And I can watch TV too.

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Filed under autobiography, being alone, commentary, humor, novel plans, TV as literature

Blogging Advice

The only advice I am actually qualified to give here is… don’t take any blogging advice from me as worth more than diddly-squoot.

Life is like moose bowling because… In order to knock down all the pins, you have to learn how to throw a moose.

That being said, my blog views are gradually going up year after year.  I am followed by readers all over the world, and some of them actually read my blog regularly, rather than just looking at the pictures and occasionally hitting the like button.

I have not yet, however, learned to throw the moose.  I started this blog in order to promote my published writing.  I now have seven published books available on Amazon.  I made $2.60 in royalties during 2018 so far.  So, as a marketing ploy, it has been a total failure.

But as a tool in my writing life, here are some things I definitely count as benefits;

Writing a blog post every day makes the ideas flow more easily and does away with any threat of writer’s block. 

Writing every day is practice and it makes me a better writer.

I have learned how to engage with an actual audience.

I am able to try out various writing ideas without worrying about success or failure.

So, all of these things add value and keep me at this blogging thing which didn’t exist in my early life when I was planning for becoming a writer when I left teaching.

If you are tempted to make the huge mistake of following my advice and emulating me, I would warn you, I do not make a living as a writer, and I never will.  I am a writer in the same way I am a diabetic.  I can’t help it.  I wouldn’t change it even if it were possible.  I have a body of work that I intend to continue to build on until I am no more.  The creation of it is a necessity of my existence.  And I certainly don’t regret a single syllable, though what happens to it when I am gone is not important to me in any way that matters.  I hope my children will keep it as a legacy, but I only do it because it shapes the story of my life.

And so, I continue to throw meese (or mooses… or moosi… or whatever the hell the funniest plural of “moose” is) and continue not to knock down any pins.

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Filed under blog posting, humor, Paffooney, Uncategorized, writing, writing teacher

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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Filed under comic strips, fairies, Hidden Kingdom, humor, Paffooney