Category Archives: imagination

Horatio T. Dogg… Canto 5

Mike and Blueberry Come Knocking

The next morning was a Monday morning in Summer.  No school to worry about, and the beans were not tall enough yet that the boys had to worry about walking them yet.  Walking beans was a summer project whereby farm kids walked up and down the rows of every family-owned beanfield with gloves and hoes and hats, to protect against sunburn, looking for evil, intolerable, low-down filthy weeds to chop or pull out by the roots.

You had to be on your toes all the time to truly combat evil.  That’s why Horatio T. Dogg was always thinking about the crimes he had to solve.  And that’s why Bobby was also always thinking about Horatio thinking about the crimes he had to solve.  Like the murder of Little Bob the stupidest turken by the evil Professor Rattiarty.

Horatio and Bobby were both sitting on the porch as two of his classmates from Belle City Middle School came walking hand and hand down the gravel road to the Niland farm.

“Hey, Mike, I haven’t seen you since school got out,” Bobby said.

“I needed to beat somebody up today.  I haven’t slugged anyone since that last day in Loomis’s class,” said Mike with a grin.

“I can smell that he’s not telling the truth,” said Horatio with a snort.

“Oh, I know.  Mike is my friend.  He’s only joking,” said Bobby.

“Oh, you can talk to the dog?” asked Blueberry.  She was a cherub-faced girl that Bobby secretly adored, but was definitely afraid of for various reasons.

“Well, yeah.  Horatio is a very special dog.  Can you hear him when he talks?”

“No.  But I will be trying to learn to hear him,” she answered.  “There is nothing that would make me happier than having a talking dog for a friend.”

She blinked her big brown eyes at Bobby in a way that seemed to melt his knees   Not enough to make him fall down, but enough to make him wobble.

“Blue, dogs don’t talk in real life,” Mike said matter-of-factly.  “That’s just a weirdo Bobby-thing.”

“Oh, I know.  But Bobby has a beautiful imagination.  And that’s what I like about him most.”

“I like her,” said Horatio.

Bobby didn’t comment, because Blueberry would hear and that would be embarrassing.

“But that’s what made the two of you think you turned the music teacher into a swan by magic, and then turned yourselves into swans to rescue her.  How dumb a thing was that?”

“But that was real.  We both became swans,” insisted Blueberry.

“I remember that,” said Horatio.  “You didn’t really change.  I would’ve smelled the difference.”

“I know,” said Bobby.

“You are both screwy,” said Mike.

“Tell him why you came to talk to him,” said Blueberry.

“The reason we walked all the way out here from town was to ask you about walking beans.  We’re putting together a crew.  Danny has promised to drive us to and from the fields.”

“So, you want me to walk with your crew?  Or you just came to ask my dad to work in our fields?”

“Both,” said Blueberry.

“We’re only charging three dollars an hour,” said Mike.

“Well, that’ll get you hired by Dad anyway. That’s less than I asked him to pay me and Shane.  But if you get the job, and I’m working with you, he won’t pay me what we first agreed on.”

“Sorry.  But we need the job.  And you don’t want me to beat you up for real, do you?”

“No, of course not.”  Bobby knew he would have to make the sacrifice.  Dad wouldn’t hire Mike and the gang at the price he was originally going to pay Bobby and Shane to do it by themselves.  And the cheaper price for more workers meant it would get done faster and would be cheaper over-all.  It was a sacrifice that Bobby had to make to help both the family farm and Mike and the gang.  Besides, there would be more money to make with Mike’s crew on other farms.

“You shouldn’t be so mean to him,” insisted Blueberry.  She was a very thin, small, and perky girl who was never afraid to say what she thought.  “If we are going to have him on our team and we’re going to work for his dad, you should be nice to him.”

“Aw, Bobby knows I don’t mean it when I say I’m gonna beat him up.  You know that I’m only joking, right?”

“Actually, you beat up Steven Shanks for picking on me.  And Frosty Anderson is only nice to me because you make him.”

It was true.  Mike was like a protector for Bobby.  Of course, that was partly because Bobby was a Norwall Pirate and Mike protected all the Pirates.  The Pirates were the town’s 4-H softball team, and also the local liars’ club.

“You should tell Mike about Professor Rattiarty and the recent murders.  He might be a good boy and help you defeat him,” Horatio said with a dog grin.

“I will definitely ask Dad to let us walk his beans.  He’ll hire your crew,” Bobby finally said.  “But I also want to talk to you about barn rats.”

“Barn rats?”

“Yeah, they been killing Mom’s favorite turkens.”

“Those silly-looking things with no feathers on their chicken necks?”

“Yeah.  Let’s go in the barn with Horatio’s nose to help us and talk about the evil Professor Rattiarty.”

“Uggh!  Imagination again!  Too many darned Pirates have too much imagination for their own good,” said Mike.

“Now, you don’t say bad things about imagination, Michael.  You know I wouldn’t be your girlfriend if it weren’t for the power of our imaginations.”  Blueberry often got hot about the topic of too much imagination. She was in favor.

“Yeah.  I know.  But you and he wouldn’t have gotten turned into swans, and flew all the way to Belle City in the snow, or saw each other naked if you didn’t have too big of a imagination,” growled Mike.  Yeah, jealousy was probably part of it.  But Bobby never actually saw Blue naked, and you can’t exactly turn back into a boy from being a swan all covered in feathers without being naked at some point.

“Do you want to see the Professor’s evil lair, or not?”

“We certainly do want to see,” insisted Blue.

“Okay.  We go into the damn barn.”

“You shouldn’t say damned, Mike,” scolded Blue. And so, they went into the brick-walled, white barn to look for clues with the detective, Horatio T. Dogg.

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Filed under humor, imagination, kids, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

Story-Telling for Art Day

One never knows what mysteries can be uncovered inside the bird house.
The plot of the story depends on what happens next in the picture.
Details make the real story clear.
Pictures tell a story even if the story-teller falls asleep in the process.
A picture can spin a fairy-tale even if it doesn’t show a plot.
Pictures easily establish a setting.
Pictures can allude to many, many other things.

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Filed under artwork, drawing, humor, illustrations, imagination, Paffooney

The Magical Recipe

I made a vow that I would be more funny. But that is a difficult promise to fulfill. So, I decided to ask for some advice.

And I have the benefit of a vivid imagination, which I have had since childhood. And so, that means I know an awful lot of imaginary people. And of those, the magical ice-dragon of Doofenburgh supposedly has the best sense of humor in the nine realms. So, I went to ask his advice.

“Oh, great and laughable comedic ice dragon Bloojuice! I have come seeking a way to write a humorous blog today guaranteed to make anyone who reads it laugh so hard they will blow milk out of their nose.”

“Mickey, you know you are not the dungeon master this time around. And you are messing with a powerful, magic-using ice dragon. What if I decide to eat you, since that would be funny.”

“Well, I should remind you, then, that I have six incurable diseases. Possibly seven now that the pandemic is nearly over. Don’t you think it’s possible that I might taste pretty bad?”

“Good point. Well, my recommendation to you is to brew up a magical stew. I shall give you the recipe for humor potion with boogers in it.”

I gagged in my mouth a bit at the booger thing, but I nodded agreement to the plan. I got Bob the Apprentice to drag the silver cauldron in to begin.

“You know this thing is stainless steel, right, Master?” Bob said.

“Oh, of course. I called it silver for magical reasons.”

Bob accepted that readily. Poor Bob is not bright.

“Now what, oh ludicrous lizard Bloojuice!?”

“Remember that student you had, the one that was nutty about being a body-builder and becoming super-strong?”

“Yes, of course. Miguelito the Muscle Maniac.”

“Right. And remember that time he visited his little sister’s kindergarten class and pushed his sister and two of her friends on the swings using alternating two-handed pushes?”

“Yes, Sarita and her pals Dondi and Alejandra.”

“And he got carried away and pushed too hard. Alejandra fell butt first directly into the lap of the teacher monitoring recess. Dondi went up and over the bar so many times that he ended up tied to the top of the swing set. And Sarita was launched over the merry-go-round, landing on her soft little head, saving her from breaking any arms or legs?”

“Yes, but that story is about children getting hurt. That’s not very funny.”

“It worked for years on America’s Funniest Home Videos. And that whole TV show Malcolm in the Middle. So, write it down and put it in the pot.”

So, I did. “Now what?”

“Put the boogers in.”

So, I took hold of Bob’s ankles and shook him upside down over the cauldron. I may have gotten a bit more than just boogers and pocket change into the stew.

“Now it will make people laugh so hard that milk shoots out of their noses?”

“Well, only if you run around to everyone who reads it and force them to drink some milk.”

“And if I do all of that and still nobody laughs…?”

“Then come back here and I will try eating you.”

Okay, I guess I’m doomed.

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The Be-Bop Beat of Mickey’s Brain

Truthfully, when I look back at the string of posts in the picket fence of this daily blog, I fail to see the overall map of it in any semblance of pattern or order.  Honestly, I did not set out to be purposefully wacky.

I did, however, set out to be purposefully surreal.  I mean it, I consciously put bizarrely dissimilar things together in an attempt to find parallels and connections  in unlike things because, not only is it funny and surprising, but is a comic act that serves to keep the mind nimble and never numb.  I do think quite a lot.  And I try to see connections between things where others wouldn’t.  For instance, the Coppertone girl with her bare butt and Bullwinkle with his unicycle are both being threatened in a way that is both comic, and taking advantage of their inherent image of innocence.  Neither will lose anything by it.  The girl stands to brown her pale white behind in the sun, while Bullwinkle will probably land on his head and it will make a decent cushion to preserve him because of it’s empty and rubbery qualities.

gilligan
Pie makes everything better.  MMMM!  Pie!

I must also admit to a bit of the old telling of stretchers, the misrepresentation of the truth, the loquacious layer-onner of lies.  Not Trumpian lies that land on you like elephants dropped like bombs out of B-52’s.  Instead, fictions that entertain and elucidate.  It is the most likely reason I keep saying connecting words and phrases like “truthfully” and “honestly” and “I mean it”.  Those are words that liars love.

Yes fiction writers like me tell little white lies.

I have now published my novel Recipes for Gingerbread Children.  It is a novel based on real people I have known and loved and listened to.  It is about an old German woman, a survivor of WWII concentration camps, who loves to tell stories to children and bake gingerbread cookies, especially gingerbread men.  It features a pair of teenage nudist girls who believe in going completely naked whenever you are indoors, even if you are in someone else’s house.  It features Nazis, both in flashback and ghostly forms.  It also features fairies from the Hidden Kingdom of Tellosia, a fairy kingdom filled with little three-inch tall magical people living under our very noses.  And it has a werewolf in it, though admittedly a very young one.  It is a comedy with its requisite sad parts, and it is definitely an example of surrealism.  It is also full of lies… err, I mean fiction.

But the real purpose of this supposedly be-bop brain fart in blog-post form is not so much to explain my blog (because how do you explain a blog that goes from Flashbacks and Foobah to telling about Madman Trump to Another novel part… #37 to Centaurs to a book and movie review, to this eccentric and eclectic thing, which probably exists more to make alliteration jokes than anything else in the most musical beat I can bang out?) but to prove that I do often think about thinking and how things fit together and what it all means… and how to write a run-on sentence that adds to the effect rather than simply annoys.  And, yeah, I’m doing that.  And it feels like a good thing to do.

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Filed under blog posting, commentary, foolishness, humor, imagination, metaphor, Paffooney, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life, surrealism

Why Mickey is Surreal

Literary realism attempts to represent familiar things as they are.

Surrealism definition: Surrealism is a type of literature in which the author attempts to display irrational or dreamlike qualities in his or her writing. Surrealism refers to writing that goes beyond the realistic into a creative, imaginative realm that often has dreamlike qualities.

Two definitions of styles of writing that are common in today’s literary realm.

Realism is a tradition that began in the middle of the 18th Century. It includes authors like Balzac, Alexander Pushkin, Mark Twain, Sinclair Lewis, and Charles Dickens. They tend to focus on the details that shine a light on the grungy, dreary realities of the Industrial Revolution, the American Experiment in Democracy, and wars like the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and wars against Napoleon, Hitler, and Communist Russia.

Surrealism, especially as it grew legs and began galloping in the 20th Century is really a reaction to the realities that Realism ground into our souls. Science Fiction imagines the problems and the possibilities presented by applying science and industry into our future. Isaac Asimov, Theodore Sturgeon, and Aldous Huxley are all surrealists because they apply the power of their imaginations to dealing with the limits reality hangs around the neck of the race horse we call life on Earth.

Fantasy writers like JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Neil Gaiman, and JK Rowlings apply apples of imagination hung from a string in front of the race horse to motivate him onward. The race horse of life on Earth is a dreamlike metaphor, somewhat like a dog who smokes a pipe and solves crimes, and is the kind of literary device that defines surrealism the way that Mickey sees it.

But enough about what surrealism is. It is just realism with a “sur” pasted on the front. So, let me just show you some.

These are Snow Babies from the book of the same name. If you see one during a blizzard, it might mean you will freeze to death.
This is a sample of an illustration for a friend’s children’s book idea that never got made. Accidentally travelling by bubble-gum-chewing goldfish.
This picture shows that, in order to do surrealism, you must make the dreamlike seem very realistic.
In When the Captain Came Calling, the Captain is invisible and Valerie Clarke gets turned into a squirrel by Voodoo.
Mickey is not the only surrealist who thinks of Toys coming to Life.

So, now that you have seen the pictorial evidence that Mickey thinks surreal thoughts, you should be willing to admit… He probably really is a Surrealist. Or, possibly, he surreally is a surrealist.

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Living in the World I Once Drew

The Grain Mill

It is normal for the world we live in to inspire us to draw pictures of it. But architects do the opposite. They imagine a world we could live in, and then build it.

David and Me in Cotulla

Sometimes, like in the picture above, I draw real people in imaginary places. Other times I draw imaginary people and put them in real places.

Gyro and Billy on the planet Pan Galactica A

Sometimes I put imaginary people in imaginary places. (I photo-shopped this planet myself.)

Superchicken and Sherry before school

In fiction, I am re-casting my real past as something fictional, so the places I draw with words in descriptions need to be as real as my amber-colored memory can manage.

Valerie and her skateboard in front of the Congregational Church

When I use photos, though, I have to deal with the fact that over time, places change. The church does not look exactly like it did in the 1980s when this drawing is set.

Drawing things I once saw, and by “drawing” I mean “making pictures,” is how I recreate myself to give my own life meaning.

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Fascination

I am falling apart. My health is poor and continuing to fail. My memory is suffering from an inability to remember the names of things. I find myself in the kitchen having gone in for a specific purpose, and not being able to remember what that purpose was. That is not to say I am not coping. I have quite a lot of adaptability and significant problem-solving skills. But that will eventually become a losing battle. Especially if I get the virus… any virus. So, what am I going to talk about with a dissolving brain and an hourglass of lifeforce swiftly running out? Fascination. I am fascinated by the details of the process. Like Mr. Spock, I find practically everything, “Fascinating!”

Birds and butterflies

My childhood fascinations turned into obsession first around natural things. When my mother would go to Vey Osier’s Beauty Salon, Vey had this fascinating parrot that was probably a hundred years old and knew how to swear really, really foully. I remember that being the only reason I was willing to go there and wait for Mom to get her hair fussed up (What my Grandpa Aldrich, her father, used to call it.)

I remember waiting for hours to hear that bird say the magic F-word or the horrible S-word. Or even the zillion other bad words I didn’t know anything about when I was seven. And, of course, I never did. The bird was mute the whole time during who-knows-how-many visits. But I did get to look endlessly at that green parrot’s amazing nutcracker bill that Vey always assured us would snap our fingers off like biting a salted pretzel if we got them anywhere close to the bill.

And when I was nine I was given as a present a plastic model kit of a Golden-Crowned Kinglet (the bird in that first picture). My relatives knew I was a burgeoning artist since my teachers constantly complained about all the skeletons, crocodiles, and monsters I drew in the margins of my school workbooks. So, I had a plastic bird to paint with all the necessary paints, but no idea what the bird looked like. We had to go all the way to Mason City to Grandma Beyer’s house because we called up there and checked, and, sure enough, there was a colored picture in the K volume of her Collier’s Encyclopedia. I painted it so accurately, the danged thing looked almost alive.

And if you have ever seen any of my butterfly posts, you know I became a butterfly hunter before ever entering junior high school, where Miss Rubelmacher, the rabid seventh-grade science teacher, made that obsession a hundred times worse. (She didn’t actually have rabies, just a reputation of requiring excessively hard-to-find life-science specimens like a nasturtium that bloomed in October in Iowa, or a Mourning Cloak butterfly.

I was able to find for her numerous Red-Spotted Purples like the one in the picture. I got them off the grill of Dad’s Ford, as well as in Grandpa Aldrich’s grove. And I eventually caught a pair of Mourning Cloaks as well on Grandpa Aldrich’s apple trees, though not until summer after seventh grade was over for me. I could tell you about my quest to catch a Tiger Swallowtail, too. But that’s an entirely different essay, written for an entirely different thematic reason.

Needless to say, my bird fascination led me to become an amateur bird-watcher with a great deal of useless naturalist information crammed into my juvenile bird-brain about birds. Especially Cardinals. And my fascination with butterflies opened my eyes to a previously invisible world of fascinating and ornately-decorated bugs. (Of course, I should’ve said “insects” instead of “bugs” since I absolutely did learn the difference.) And I still to this day know what a Hairstreak Butterfly looks like, what a Luna Moth is (Think Lunesta Commercials,) and how you have to look at the underside of the lower wings to correctly identify a Moonglow Fritillary Butterfly.

During my lifetime, my fascinations have become legion. I became obsessed with the comic books done by artist Wally Wood, especially Daredevil. I became obsessed with Disney movies, especially the animated ones like The Rescuers, The Jungle Book, Pinocchio, and Fantasia. I rode the bucking bronco of a fascination with the Roswell Crash (and the actual alien space ships I am almost certain the U.S. Army recovered there.) And so many other things that it would make this essay too long, and would probably bore you into a death-like coma. So, here’s what I have learned by being fascinated with my own fascinations;

  1. You do not want to play me in a game of Trivial Pursuit for money, even now that my memory is like swiss cheese.
  2. I have a real ability to problem-solve because I know so many useless details that can be combined in novel ways to come up with solutions to problems.
  3. I can write interesting essays and engaging novels because I have such a plethora of concrete details and facts to supplement my sentences and paragraphs with.
  4. It can be really, really boring to talk to me about any of my fascinations unless I happen to light the same color of fire in your imagination too. Or unless you arrived at that same fascination before I brought it up.

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The 1957 Pink and White Mercury of Imagination

mercury_1957_monterey_pnk_02

Yes, she was a real car.  My dad bought her in the 60’s as a used car.  But she was a hardtop, not a convertible.  She was the car he drove to work every day in Belmond.  We called it the “Pink and White Pumpkin”, my sisters and I, referring to the pumpkin in Cinderella which the fairy godmother changes into a coach.  But it would only later become the car of my dreams.

mercury_19573120532728_a1bc76c091

You see, she was killed in the Belmond Tornado of 1966.  Her windows were all broken out and her frame was twisted.  So the pictures of her, though they look exactly like my memories of her, minus the rust spots, are not actual pictures of the car in question.  Our next door neighbor, Stan the Truck Man, was a mechanic always on the lookout for salvage parts.  He took her apart piece by piece while she sat in our driveway.  We continued to sit in her and play in her until all that was left was the bare frame.  My friend Werner told me for the first time about the facts of life and where babies really came from in the back seat while she was being gradually dismantled.  Of course, I was nine at the time and didn’t really believe him.  How could that grossness actually be true?

the-lady

But she still lives, that old dream car…  She is the reason that I objectify my imagination as a ship with pink sails.  My daydreams, my creative fantasies, and those long, lingering plays in the theater of my imagination as I am drifting off to sleep all start in the three-masted sailing ship with pink sails.  And that dream image was born from the Pink and White Pumpkin.  I have sailed in her to many an exotic place… even other planets.  And when I die, she will take me home again.

 

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Filed under goofiness, humor, imagination, nostalgia, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, telling lies

Why I’m Never Alone

There are voices in my stupid old head. But don’t worry. They are not dog voices telling me brunettes need to be shot with a .44. They are echoing voices. Voices of loved ones, voices of students, voices of random amusing people I have known and how they talk, the many voices of Robin Williams, and, of course, the singing voice of Roy Rogers.

I really don’t know how many times I traveled down dark and dangerous pathways with, “Happy trails to you…” echoing in my stupid head. It helped me through surgery. It helped me through hospitalization for a “That EKG could mean you are having a heart attack right now.” It wasn’t a heart attack. It helped me with the meeting with a judge for my Chapter 13 bankruptcy… which was caused by the coulda-been heart attack.

I hear the voices of departed relatives too. My sweet old Reagan-Republican Grandma Beyer comes back to me talking about magazine ads in “Look” magazine in the early seventies.

“Now, those children are positively up to no good. Look at the expressions on their evil little faces. Do you really believe they are merely going to eat that food? Or are they going to make someone wear it, scare it, or underwear it?

“And look at the neon-blue eyes those youngsters have! Do you suppose that orange juice is radioactive or something? It certainly doesn’t look like its doing them any good health-wise to be drinking that much. They look wired!”

Or when she saw TV Guide’s picture from the mini-series “V” in the 80’s.

“Land Sakes! That’s one pretty awful skin condition that poor man has. I certainly wouldn’t want to get infected with that!”

media.npr.org

And there’s always the voice of Mark Twain lurking in the back of my brain watching for a chance to remark on something and make me laugh.

“I don’t like to commit myself about Heaven and Hell… You see, I have friends in both places.”

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to any vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

“The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”

“No amount of evidence will ever persuade an idiot.”

“Okay, you can shut up now, Mark, before I laugh myself to death,” I replied.

And then there’s all those imaginary people that my own demented psyche gave birth to and now live in my fiction. They follow me around everywhere too, making comments, encouraging me, sometimes discouraging me, and always making me forget that I am actually talking to myself. I write down a lot of what they say. It becomes the basis for another book or two, or possibly twenty.

So, you see, I am rarely lonely. My mind is never quiet. And there’s always a conversation going on, no matter that I am completely alone and no one is saying anything at all out loud.

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Aeroquest Art So Far

These are the pieces of art and illustrations that are going into the re-writing project of my novel Aeroquest.

I decided to totally rework the novel and illustrate it more fully because it was always supposed to be a science-fiction satire and parody that was more cartoonish than literary.

It is a story about a teacher conquering a space empire. It arose from a science-fiction role-playing game that filled my days in the 1980’s and early 90’s.

It parodies Star Wars, Star Trek, Flash Gordon, Buck Rodgers, Dune, and much more besides. And it includes many of my own wacky inventions about what the future might hold in store.

Here is the original teacher in space and some of his first class of students.

Many of the main characters are based on the actual role-playing characters made up by the boys and young men who played the game with me. Many had to be re-named, however, because, like Tron Blastarr above, they often had movie-character names.

This important character was a parody of Professor X of the X-men, from the comic books and well before the movies.

It was a simple matter to give him psionic powers and transfer him into outer space. Oh, and get him out of the wheel chair too.

The character’s creator was the son of the local high school science teacher.

Ninja powers were a thing with teenage boys in the 80’s.

Combat is an important part of the role-playing game.

We became well-versed on weapons and tactics… and how to manipulate the rolls of the dice… by cheating if necessary.

How else do heroes overcome impossible odds?

Two more player characters that play a critical role in the novels.

Again with the parody characters that came from player-character ideas stolen from TV and the movies.

Aliens are necessary to this kind of story.

I am near to completing this third novel in the series.

The Nebulon aliens, though very human-like, are blue of skin. That is not easy to depict in a black-and-white drawing.

The initial idea for the fourth novel’s cover.

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