Category Archives: humor

AeroQuest 4… Canto 123

Canto 123 – Who Can We Trust?

Jadalaqstbr, more often called Jackie because Zaranian names are hard with no vowels at the end, was impressed by the way Alec had taken charge of the situation.  She knew no one really liked or trusted Alec.  He was abrasive and often not worthy of trust.  But he had seduced her more than once by using his telepathy to invade her mind… more than three times already actually.  And she liked it.  There was something both sweet and sad about boys who were that pathetic and secretly needy.  She had always had a soft spot for guys like that.  Her own father had been like that before he died.

  And she could teleport him to five hundred feet in the air and drop him on his head if he did anything really bad.

Jackie noticed Taffy was the one who retrieved the

fallen helmet.

“Do not touch the inside of that!” said Shen Ming-sensei with a frightening suddenness.

“Um, okay…” said Taffy, holding it gingerly.  “Why?”

“Ah, so you see… I remember all of this now… when I could not recall any of it before…  The Avenger helmet was created over 400 years ago to have an intelligence of its own.  I overdid the wisdom circuits, however, and it blew out a morality capacitor.  So, instead of using it to make our commanders smarter in battle, it simply went insane.  We locked it away for four hundred years.  It grew more and more insane with each passing year.  Not only that, it can absorb the skills of those who wear it and amplify them.  So, not only does it have Jai Chaing’s superior bow skill, it has Hassan Parker’s Psionic telepathy.”

“Oh!  You mean it could take over my mind?”  Horrified, Taffy dropped the helmet.

“Ah, this is better.  So, perhaps a telepath should be the one to take this thing back to Mistress Li in the storage basement.”

“Right now, only Hassan and Alec are here with telepathy,” said Mai Ling.

“Ah, yes.  Perhaps giving it back to Hassan is not the best of ideas.  It did have him under its evil spell just moments ago.”  Shen Ming smiled crazily as he shook his head no.

“Um, okay…  I will take it to the storage basement,” Alec said rather hesitantly.

Jackie decided that if Alec was going to take such a risk, she was going with him to teleport him away the instant the evil thing showed the least sign of doing something bad.

Shen Ming and others walked towards the infirmary with Hassan while Alec and Jackie, with the helmet, started towards the stair to the palace basement.

Jackie was admiring Alec’s handsome face and not really paying attention to what Alec was looking it.  He turned the helmet over and over in his hands, peering inside at the neural contact points.

“I wonder how this thing makes people put it on their heads?”

Jackie suddenly turned and looked directly at the former Black Spider student ninja.

“Hassan is the second strongest telepath on Gaijin.  It must have a special power of its own,” she said.

No sooner had she said it than the helmet began to vibrate and glow.  A powerful, dominating voice blasted through her head, probably doing the same to Alec. 

“Put me on your head!  You are in my power!” the voice directed at Alec.  “Jackie, take off all your clothes!  I am your master!” It directed at her.

She could see Alec struggling to disobey the voice, but the helmet slowly raised his hands above his head and slipped it into place on him, the fifth most powerful telepath on Gaijin.

And her own hands no longer obeyed her.  She watched with horror as she completely undressed herself.

“We must escape to the Black Spider Castle!” the helmet said.  The helmet did not sound like Alec.  It seemed to have a voice of its own.

As much as it terrified her to see herself obeying the helmet, Jackie flung her clothing away and started to run.  Alec, wearing the horrid, three-horned helmet ran after her. Where was she going?  She didn’t know where the Black Spider Castle was, but apparently her bare legs did.  She was headed to the last place in the universe where she wanted to be.  And she was going there at high speed.

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

Write Like You Mean It

I am guilty of writing satire and parody. Many of the things I have said in this blog are written as firmly tongue-in-cheek. But people will often take you seriously… literally… misinterpreting everything you say. They will, via comment, reach into your mouth, pull out that tongue, and wrap it three times around your neck in order to strangle you with it. (I dare you to take that one literally, all you non-humor appreciators.)

Obviously it helps, when talking about satire and parody, that you define the terms so that your reader has at least a little bit of a sense that the idiot writer actually knows what he or she is talking about and not merely flinging big words and obscure ideas around the room. (And, of course, when I refer to myself as an idiot writer, I am hoping that the reader gets the sense that I am being ironic about the fact that truly wise people are the ones who realize how little they know in comparison to what the universe has available for them to know.)

Parody is when you really love a piece of culture, literature, or art and you then imitate it in a humorous way. In my novel AeroQuest (which has now become 3 novels, and I am writing 4 & 5 too) I make fun of Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr. Who, Flash Gordon, Buck Rodgers, and numerous other science-fiction and adventure-fiction things. The humor tends to come from exaggeration, ridiculous situations, extreme irony, and wry observations about our world embedded in the story. And they are written as a homage, not as an attempt to tear those things down.

Satire, on the other hand, is comedy created where you don’t like a thing and you write highly critical commentary about it disguised as the very thing you are criticizing. My narrator in AeroQuest, Googol Marou, is mostly satire. He is a know-it-all, pompous gasser who often holds forth about what people are really like, how their institutions really work, and how the primary purpose of life in the universe is to blow things up.

So, both kinds of writing, I am obviously saying, are in direct opposition to what my title suggests this post is about. Don’t immediately try to pull my tongue out of my cheek. I told you before that was not literal. It is a joke. The tongue-thing, not my title.

I am completely serious when I say that a writer must write about the things he or she already knows. It also needs to be about things you really care about.

My parody novels, then, obviously show how much I care about the novel tropes and movie-serial action/adventure stories that I am reverently imitating, mostly for laughs.

And I mean it also when my stories refute the ideas that blowing up high-population planets is a good thing, done for fun and sometimes profit. We are, after all, busily destroying this planet to make the living Koch Brother insanely richer.

There you have it, then. The mewling excuses for my egregious attempts at committing acts of both parody and satire. I actually mean what I say, even though you may have to use your brain a little bit in order to understand what I am saying.

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Filed under humor, Paffooney, satire, writing, writing humor, writing teacher

Art Day at the End of the World

I have a few more Science Fiction stories to tell. This one will be called AeroQuest 6 : Galactic Fire,
If I live long enough, I may use the characters of Farbick and Davalon again. They have been in both Catch a Falling Star and Stardusters and Space Lizards.
This picture is from an unnamed story about Earth Humans attending the native Dions’ school on the jungle planet Dionysus. The primitive peoples of the planet are sauroids rather humanoids, but they are connected to the stars thanks to Earther colonists.
This is merely a fantasy picture starring Buster Crabbe (the human on the left who would grow up to play Flash Gordon)
And finally, pirates on a distant planet with two suns (one of which is a red dwarf)

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Filed under artwork, humor, illustrations, Paffooney

Taking the Path Ahead of Me

From where I now stand, looking towards the future, I can clearly see I do not have very many more steps on my personal path forward. Good thing. My legs are almost ready to give out. I walk with a cane.

More importantly, as a school teacher, the only classes I will be able to teach are the fictional ones in my books. In fact, if my work in progress is the last one I will be able to finish (hopefully), then the dojo pictured above is the last one. At the moment they are learning social justice lessons fighting sentient vegetables on the planet Cornucopea.

There are many things I can take solace in as I near the end of the road. I outlasted the Trump Administration. (At least, technically, because I am still alive today in spite of feeling ill, while Trump’s run has officially reached its end with the electoral college acceptance ceremony in spite of the insurrection.)

There are many, many former students that still fondly remember the year or two (in some cases three) that they spent in my class.

Mai Ling in the picture with the Japanese Castle is an example. Even though the telekinetic ninja girl from the planet Gaijin is entirely fictional, I base all of her dialogue and reactions on a very quiet but extremely effective girl that I taught for two straight years in the seventh and eighth grades. She listened, learned, and then solved any problem I put in front of her. The last I knew she was thriving in a junior college in Laredo, planning on a nursing career. She will have succeeded by now, and would have even if I had never met her. But she told me she liked my class.

I can be grateful too that I have lived long enough to write most of the stories I really wanted to write. Sure, there are nudists in some of my stories, but there are nudists in real life, and in my personal past as well. Maybe they turn off some people that would like my books better without them. But I have some pretty good stories with no nudists in them too. And the nudists I know are some pretty good people. So, I have a right to be grateful for them. My stories, I mean. Though I am grateful for nudists too. I tend to write like I’m baring my soul. And I am proud of my naked truths.

Tiki Astro is a robot boy, built to be practically indistinguishable from a human boy..

Whatever the near future holds in store, I feel ready. I got my $600 relief check. 2020 taxes will probably cost more than that this year, but I actually have some money to hopefully pay for them. I am ill today. But that’s more often the case than not now. I deserve to rest a bit, grow stronger, and get on with whatever’s left to me.

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Filed under aliens, education, empathy, humor, Paffooney

Limping and Learning

We have not had an acceptable run the last four years. He won… the preening orange peacock. We were forced to live with the results, accepting the conclusions that the bad guys won the election and had a right to rule over us.

They took the economy that Obama had repaired after Bush crashed it and reached new heights, that benefitted only the richest among THEM. And then they crashed it again. Even worse, with more carnage and pain.

And they took the pandemic-survival playbook that Bush requested and Obama perfected enough to avert a horrible Ebola pandemic and tore it up, firing the the response team in Homeland Security because Obama put it together. That worked out well… for people who don’t like black people or Hispanics.

We impeached him, but couldn’t remove him. We investigated him, but let him get away with all the crimes, especially abuse of power, that we uncovered. How is that fair to those of us who never committed a crime, but suffered from his handling of taxation and immigration and national security?

So, what have we learned? I have learned that friends in Iowa who questioned Obama’s birth certificate and called Obama “Black Hitler” will claim I have never been respectful towards their president, and I should be ashamed of myself. And I have learned they can tell me what dramatic irony means… as a term from high school literature class with Mr. Sorum. But they don’t live it… or acknowledge that other people, me for example, are forced to.

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Filed under cartoons, humor

The Lovely Lennon Sisters

Grandpa and Grandma Aldrich lived on the family farm outside of town, a little more than two miles from the tiny farm town of Rowan, Iowa.  I walked it more than once.  It was faster to walk the railroad tracks between the two places.  About a mile and three quarters as the crow flies… three hours as the boy investigates the critters in the weeds, throws rocks at dragonflies, and listens to the birdsong along the way.  But the point is, my maternal grandparents lived close enough to have a profound influence on my young life.  Much of what they loved became what I love.  And every Saturday night, they loved to watch the Lawrence Welk Show.  And that show had highlights that we longed to see again and again… on a show that never really went into reruns.  We lived to see Jo Ann Castle play the old rinky-tink piano, Bobby and Cissy doing a dance routine, and most of all… the lovely Lennon Sisters.

I always wanted to be the things they wished me to be in the song “May You Always”.  I wanted to “walk in sunshine” and “live with laughter”.  They presented a world of possibilities all clean and good and wholesome.  As a young boy who hated girls, I had a secret crush on Janet Lennon who was the youngest, though a decade older than me, and on Peggy Lennon, the one with the exotic Asian eyes.  They sang to me and spoke directly to my heart.

You have to believe in something when you are young.  The world can present you with so many dark and hurtful experiences, that you simply have to have something to hang onto and keep you from being blighted and crippled by the pain.  For me, it often came in the form of a lovely and simple lyric sung by the lovely Lennon Sisters.  When you are faced with hard choices… especially in those dark moments when you think about ending it all because it is all just too much to bear, the things stored in those special pockets of your heart are the only things that can save you.  For me, one of those things will always be the music of the Lennon Sisters… especially when watched on the old black and white TV in the farmhouse where my grandparents lived, and helped to raise me, every Saturday night in the 1960’s.

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Filed under art my Grandpa loved, battling depression, Celebration, humor, inspiration, nostalgia, strange and wonderful ideas about life, TV review

AeroQuest 4… Canto 122

Canto 122 – The Hidden Powers of the Avenger

In the central courtyard of the Palace of a Thousand Years, the Avenger made its reappearance atop a young, completely nude boy.  He ran into the courtyard full throttle, and suddenly pulling up in front of the animal handler, six of his young apprentices, and six mardenschmauz six-legged riding beasts.    The Avenger then hit them with a mind-blast, proving that whoever was under the helmet was a powerful telepath.  He did not, however, kill them.  He merely put all seven people and six hexipedal riding beasts into a deep and restful involuntary slumber.

Of course, it was obvious that it wasn’t Alec under the helmet.  Alec was especially aware that it wasn’t him, as he rushed to the scene of the attack knowing it had to be stopped, and most likely only by another telepath.

Besides Alec knowing that he wasn’t the telepath in the Avenger helmet, he knew it wasn’t Sara or Junir, because the naked body wasn’t a girl, and it definitely wasn’t blue.  Besides, he was beginning to know and befriend the only Space Nudist among the students of the White Spider, and he now recognized Hassan Parker’s skinny butt and tiny penis.

Alec’s own telepathy was at least strong enough to protect him from any attack against him that naked Hassan could muster, in spite of Hassan’s telepathic superiority.

“Halt, Hassan!  You must take that evil helmet off.  You don’t want to hurt anyone.”  Alec stood in Hassan’s way.

“I do not know this Hassan you speak of.  I am the mighty Avenger!  I have returned because of the foul crimes of Shen Ming.  The wronged ones must be avenged!”

Others gathered around the scene of the Avenger’s sleep attack.  Taffy King and Mai Ling arrived from across the courtyard.  Jadalaqstbr teleported to Alec’s side and slipped her soft hand into his.  And Shen Ming-sensei hustled across the green, lifting the skirts of his orange ceremonial robe with both hands.

“Bow before me, infidels!  Or be destroyed in the name of Shen Ming!”

“I did not ask for any destruction in my name,” muttered Shen Ming, low enough that Alec almost didn’t hear him say it.

“So, Shen-sensei, the Avenger has now become Hassan?” Alec asked.

“Of course!  Why didn’t I remember?  It’s the stupid helmet!” Shen Ming said with a chuckle.

“You mean, it’s controlling his mind?” Alec asked.

“Undoubtedly.  It is what it was designed for.”

Alec looked at Taffy and Mai Ling, both of whom had fearsome Psionic powers of telekinesis and no telepathic mind shields.  If Hassan took over their minds… Oy!  Everyone could die a horrible death.

Not willing to take chances, Alec ran towards Hassan the Avenger and forcefully applied his best roundhouse kick to the side of Hassan’s head, then reversed direction and kicked him in the midsection with the other leg.  The helmet, once dislodged, flew through the air and landed in the grass more than two meters away from anyone.

Hassan was lying on the ground, still as death.

His heart in his throat, Alec leapt to Hassan’s aide.  His own telepathy was healing-centered, and though Fangwoman of the Black Spiders had only taught Alec how to use it to inflict pain, he knew only too well that it could be reversed the way Sara Smith did it to heal instead of harm.

The green healing energy radiated from Alec’s hands.  He poured his power into Hassan’s potentially damaged skull.

Slowly, Hassan opened his eyes again and came back to life.

“Alec, you freed me!  That evil helmet takes over your mind.  No matter how hard I fought it, it made me do things I did not want to do.”

“You have always been nice to me and helped me, even when I was horrible to you,” Alec admitted.  “I couldn’t just let the Avenger thing do harm to my only male friend.”

“Alec, you have definitely changed,” said Taffy King, smiling at him.

“Yeah, maybe so… But please don’t tell Phoenix.  I don’t want him to lose respect for me.”

“Oh, no worries there,” Taffy said about their old Black Spider classmate, “He doesn’t respect you, and probably never will.”

“Well, good then…” Alec muttered, though the disappointment from realizing the truth of that stung him deeply.

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

Revision and Editing

I have recently embarked on a side project of rereading my own books, marking up the errors, awkwardnesses , and inconsistencies I find in them. In other words, I am giving them a complete third or fourth edit.

In some cases this leads to the opportunity to add illustrations and tweaks to the formatting.

In other cases it offers me the opportunity to remove things that will bother future readers who react to things in ways that I don’t totally understand, but definitely want to avoid giving offense more than I want be controversial.

Some things are not negotiable. The fact that Blueberry Bates is a transgender character is something I mean to defend. It that offends someone, that reflects a prejudice on their part, not mine. I have known real transgender people, and their existence should not be offensive to anyone with a drop of Christian or moral decency in their bloodstream.

No young person should ever have to go through the pain and humiliation the person this character is based on had to endure in real life. No one should be driven to suicide or self-destructive thoughts just because their body doesn’t match the gender in their brains.

But I did change the details in Sing Sad Songs that offended one reviewer. While I still think the physical intimacy alluded to in the story (and I do mean “alluded to” as it was not actually depicted in the scene, only mentioned) was not inappropriate, the story does not suffer from changing the act to a mere embarrassing first kiss. In fact, I kinda regret not making that specific change sooner. Although I am sure that reviewer would still have managed to be offended.

I had thought to make this essay about my novel-writing process an essay about censorship. But the whole project is not censorship. I am changing things now not because my urge to self-censor has come about due to a sudden change to prudishness. I still believe that I am a nudist in my soul even though I am almost never naked. And I still believe that children have sex lives and are entitled to them. I am just being more cautious with how the stories will connect to readers, and I wish to be more sensitive to the characters’ rights to privacy (especially in view of the fact that some of my characters are modeled on real people from my past)(and some of those are actual nudists.)

This essay is about reconsidering and revising my work to make it more effective and sensitive to the needs of the reader. I am not a child pornographer, and I don’t want my work to be looked at in that way. Just as when I was teaching, I never actually touched the children physically (accept for a few accidents, moments of crisis, and breaking up fights) I don’t want to violate young people in my writing. I am not removing all mentions of abuse from stories. But those things are done by antagonists and characters in stories, not by the author in how he or she chooses to describe things.

Vincent Price’s Christmas Tree

A writer can’t really change who he or she is, and she or he can’t really change the basic way by which he or she writes. But you can always revise and edit.

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Filed under humor, novel plans, novel writing, writing

Will Normal Ever Come Back?

Captain Action Spiderman and Captain America beside Han Solo from Hoth

We are now entering the most deadly time in the pandemic. We are expecting a hundred thousand more deaths in January 2021.

The question of whether or not I will even survive this month has not been settled.

I am still isolated at home with three members of my immediate family. Contact with the outside world is as limited as it is possible to be. Of the four of us, only my wife and son have to leave the house for work. My son has had Covid once already, so he probably still has antibody protection, but there are no guarantees he won’t get it again, and worse the second time. He works as a jailor and so he is exposed to Covid-positive inmates daily. My wife will go back to her teaching job this coming week. They are taking precautions as much as possible, but it is still in-person instruction. And my wife is at-risk with diabetes and high blood pressure. And there is no question in the minds of the Texas Board of Education that she needs to risk her life five days week to keep kids in school.

Star Wars and Star Trek Action Figures do not get along well on the shelf.

I am deteriorating from my many health problems. But I am only a little over a year away from being done with my bankruptcy and the paying off of my medical bills. So, barring another hospitalization, I can actually see light at the end of that tunnel.

But getting back to normal?

It will never happen. I will never again be well enough to make money as a teacher in a classroom, even as a limited-time substitution. If staying in my room and writing all day is my new normal, well, I am already doing that. But the things I have done as a normal thing will not be coming back.

Traveling is going to be a thing of the past. I cannot weather long car trips anymore. No more visits to Six Flags or Disney World, and maybe not even trips home to Iowa.

Doll collecting is also a thing of the past. I have no more money or time to pursue those little plastic people anymore, even at five dollars a month. In many ways I gave it up for good months ago already. And I probably have too many of them already.

“Child, child, have patience and belief, for life is many days, and each present hour will pass away. Son, son, you have been mad and drunken, furious and wild, filled with hatred and despair, and all the dark confusions of the soul – but so have we. You found the earth too great for your one life, you found your brain and sinew smaller than the hunger and desire that fed on them – but it has been this way with all men. You have stumbled on in darkness, you have been pulled in opposite directions, you have faltered, you have missed the way, but, child, this is the chronicle of the earth. And now, because you have known madness and despair, and because you will grow desperate again before you come to evening, we who have stormed the ramparts of the furious earth and been hurled back, we who have been maddened by the unknowable and bitter mystery of love, we who have hungered after fame and savored all of life, the tumult, pain, and frenzy, and now sit quietly by our windows watching all that henceforth never more shall touch us – we call upon you to take heart, for we can swear to you that these things pass.”
― Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again

Thomas Wolfe is correct. Without being able to physically travel to the past, you simply can’t go home again. We can travel through time, but only forward. But he is also right that the present time will pass too. And we all will eventually reach a time where we become timeless. So, we hunker down, live in the moment, and the world will become normal even if it is unrecognizable as what was normal in the past.

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Filed under commentary, family, health, humor, medical issues, photo paffoonies

Saturday Art Day in 2021

Brent Clarke in 1974
Dorin Dobbs in 1990
Miss Francis Morgan in 1990
Milt Morgan in 1974 (based on me in 1968)
Francois Martin in 1985

Today’s post is full of portraits of imaginary people. Some of these are based on real people who posed for them or I had a photo of. Others, even if they are based on characters who were once real people I knew, are entirely made up out of my head.

Milt Morgan in 1999.
Blueberry Bates and Mike Murphy in 1990
Hoodwink and Babbles the Kelpie in 1999
General Tuffany Swift and Grandma Gretel Stein in 1975.
Valerie Clarke and her Daddy, Kyle Clarke in 1983
Devon Martinez in 1998
Ham Aero in 5526 C. E.
Harker Dawes in 1984

Sherry Cobble in 1974

Icarus Jones in 1976

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