Category Archives: imagination

Monster Mashing

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One of the side “benefits” of having diabetes is that it often comes with an extra helping of diabetic depression.  I had the blues really bad this week.  I am not the only member of my family suffering.

So, what do you do about it?

Or, rather, what does a goofy idiot like me do about it?

Especially on a windy day when the air is saturated with pollen and other lovely things that I am absolutely, toxically allergic to?

Well, for one thing, I used the word toxically in this post because it is a funny-sounding adverb that I love to use even though the spell-checker hates it, no matter how I spell or misspell it.

And I bought a kite.

Yes, it is a cheap Walmart kite that has a picture of Superman on it that looks more like Superboy after taking too much kryptonite-based cough syrup for his own super allergies.

But I used to buy or make paper diamond kites just like this one when I was a boy in Iowa to battle the blues in windy spring weather.  One time I got one so high in the sky at my uncle’s east pasture that it was nothing more than a speck in the sky using two spools of string and one borrowed ball of yarn from my mother’s knitting basket.  It is a way of battling blue meanies.

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And I bought more chocolate-covered peanuts.  The chocolate brings you up, and the peanut protein keeps you from crashing your blood sugar.  I have weathered more than one Blue Meanie attack with m&m’s peanuts.

And I used the 1957 Pink and White Mercury of Imagination to bring my novel, The Baby Werewolf, home.  I wrote the last chapter Monday night in the grip of dark depression, and writing something, and writing it well, makes me a little bit happier.

And I have collected a lot of naked pictures of nudists off Twitter.  Who knew that you could find and communicate with such a large number of naked-in-the-sunshine nuts on social media?  It is nice to find other nude-minded naturists in a place that I thought only had naked porn until I started blogging on naturist social media.  Being naked in mind and body makes me happier than I ever thought it would.

And besides being bare, I also like butterflies and books and baseball and birds, (the Cardinals have started baseball season remember) and the end of winter.  “I just remember of few of my favorite things, and then I don’t feel so bad!”  Oh, and I like musical movies like The Sound of Music too.

The monsters of deep, dark depression are being defeated as we speak.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, battling depression, cardinals, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, imagination, nudes, Paffooney, photos, strange and wonderful ideas about life

An Idiot’s Guide to Art Day

No, I am not calling you an idiot, dear reader. I am the one providing the guidance material.

This idiot is not actually me… This is Doofy Fuddbugg. He is not overburdened with book-learning, but he can fix practically anything around the house or in the car. He can also tell a story pretty well that makes you laugh.

So, if I were to try to explain art day in an Idiot’s Guide aimed at explaining the essence of it to Doofy Fuddbugg, one idiot trying to educate another, I would explain that I am lazy on Saturdays. All I want to do is post pictures and not have to write a lot of heavily-thought-out words and ideas in the usual droning idiot’s essay of 500 words or more. So, I go through my WordPress picture file and find interesting pictures to post without having to draw or paint anything new.

I confess that I do not merely select pictures at random. I try to get pictures I haven’t used in a good while. This double portrait of Gretel Graymalkin, and what she looks like naked in the moonlight, hasn’t been used in a post since last year. And there is a bit of rhyme and reason to it too. Gretel is an idiot.

And this is a picture that any idiot can tell is a real picture of fairies in the park discussing the building of a new fairy circle after it finally started raining heavily again in Texas after almost a decade of drought. Of course, it has to be an idiot to tell that. Most people would recognize this as a pen-and-colored-pencil drawing photo-shopped over a photograph. Even the mushrooms are not real. I have it on good authority from fairy-kind that they are actually pixies in disguise.

And then there is this rare bird I drew a couple of years back. He is a surrealistic peacock who thought of auditioning for NBC before he learned they don’t still do those “Now in Living Color…” ads anymore. He’s surrealistic in that he could not possibly be real, unless he were really just a bowling pin and lady’s fan put together by a deranged painter with a mental disorder that makes him do decoratively dippy drawings on things you really shouldn’t be drawing upon in the middle of a bowling tournament.

And who can forget this idiot, an avatar of me as a purple Mickey in the style of the late great Don Martin of Mad Magazine fame? He’s the whole reason you get foolish lazy-Saturday posts like this at all, There has got to be a cure for that somewhere in the multiverse.

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Filed under artwork, cartoony Paffooney, humor, imagination, Paffooney

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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Filed under birds, bugs, commentary, humor, imagination, insight

How to Totally Waste Your Free Time

Yes, editing a book is like giving scissors to a monkey. Things are going to be cut. The cuts will be totally random. And then you need to paste if all back together yourself and try to make sense of it all again while cussing the damned monkey under your breath so that the monkey doesn’t hear it… unless on this project you are your own monkey.

I have now spent about five years taking my first published novel, the crappiest thing I ever wrote, published by the worst piratical publisher ever to board the sailing ship of my writer’s imagination, and expand it by rewriting and adding story elements that I never reached in the original.

It has been a terrible, blood-boiling effort to turn nonsense, corny jokes, numerous real science fiction ideas, and an overly-excited imagination into a coherent story that is intentionally a cross between Frank Herbert’s Dune and Douglas Adama’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

One of the main flaws of the book is the typical imitation-Dune problem of way too many characters to keep track of. Not just characters… too many planets, alien creatures, robots, alien cultures, star-born weirdnesses, and plot curlicues. My solution to this; add in lots of illustrations (I had originally sold the idea to the publishing pirates with illustrations included… which they cut down to five… and then eliminated completely,) and create an extensive set of appendixes that allow confused readers to look up the weird names and nouns that confronted them on every page.

The plot is overly complex and Dune-like specifically because of how it came to be. I was playing a space-based role-playing game called Traveller with three to eight middle school and high school students who were mostly former students of mine in the 1980’s. They created the player characters who become the lead characters in the book. Both the Aero Brothers, Trav Dalgoda, Tron Blastarrr, and many others were created by the boys. They then went on adventures that began in my imagination, but then took their many twists and turns through where the players wanted to go, what they wanted to build, buy, or steal, and what they chose to do about their many life-and-death encounters.

Book 4 is the manuscript, now finished, that I am editing and will soon publish.

I have reached the fun part of the story where critical things begin to happen that make life-and-death changes to the lives of the most important characters.

The end of the original story will occur in the next book of the series. Book 5 has about fifty percent of its content already written. I will have to write and paste in the extended content for the other fifty percent.

It will end up being not the worst novel I have ever written. It will be the worst five novels. Unless the monkey with the scissors works a miracle or two.

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

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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Horatio T. Dogg… Canto 10

Front Porch Deductions

The next day, of course, was Sunday.  And after Sunday School and Church, Bobby knew exactly where to find Horatio.  It was a screen porch with room enough for two rocking chairs, a futon couch/bed foldout, an old easy chair, and a small table for iced tea, lemonade, and the checkerboard.  But there was also a spot on the homemade rug in front of Grandpa’s rocking chair where the sunbeams converged and made a warming zone that was absolutely perfect for warming arthritic dog joints and soothing old-dog complaints that needed to be soothed to allow half-day-long naps.

“So, Horatio, here you are!”

The elderly collie yawned.  “Yes, Bobby.  Here I are.”

“Silly old dog!  You’re supposed to say Here I am.”

“Yes, I know that.  You must remember, every time you hear me speaking like this, the voice is actually coming out of your own imagination.”

“Sure, and I guess I must’ve made you say it wrong on purpose for some evil reason.”

“Not an evil reason.  A familiar one.  Grandpa Butch makes that kind of joke by mirroring the things you say as if they were incorrect on purpose.  It’s the way his sense of humor works, and you are really smart enough to know that, though you often pretend that you aren’t.  Your mind filled in the blanks in a way that sounds right to you, even when there’s joking involved because that’s the world you’re used to.”

Of course, Bobby knew one hundred percent that he was writing the entire discussion in his head because he wanted Horatio to talk like he knew Sherlock Holmes probably would.

Bobby sat on the porch floorboards in his short pants and buried his right hand in the silky fur of Horatio’s neck.

“Why do dogs make such good friends?” Bobby said more to himself than to Horatio.

“Because dogs love their chosen humans.  And a dog knows how to listen to people much better than any cat or parrot, or goldfish.  Dogs may not know the words you are using all of the time. But they know your smell.  And they know how to read what you are thinking and feeling because the see it in your face.  No stupid cat can do that.”

“But cats are better at catching mice and rats,” said Shane, while stepping out on the porch with a piece of Mom’s cherry pie on a small plate that he handed to Bobby.

“Thanks, Shane.”

“You’re welcome.  I had mine in the kitchen, and Mom asked me to bring yours out here.”

“It’s good,” Bobby said with the first bite in his mouth.  “But, hey, wait.  How did you know what Horatio said about cats?”

“And how did you get the information so wrong, too?” added Horatio.

“It wasn’t Horatio talking.  It was you.”

“Oh.”

“See, my dear Robert, I told you my words all come out of your imagination.  And sometimes your mouth,” said Horatio.

“Did you hear Horatio say that last thing?”

“What?”

“That thing he said about where the words come from?”

“I didn’t hear the dog say anything,” said Shane.

“I told you, dear boy, it’s only in your head.

“Well, of course, it is.”

“Is what?” asked Shane.

“You shouldn’t be holding two conversations in your head as the same time.  You are confusing your brother Shane,” said Horatio.

“Yes, see.  Only I can hear the dog talking.”

“You’re weird,” said Shane, grinning at Bobby as he left him to enjoy his pie with Horatio as company.

Then, something in the yard caught Bobby’s attention.  Out between the porch and the barn, on the gravel drive, a large rat was slinking along doing rat business as if he didn’t care who or what saw him.

“Who is that, Horatio?”

“That, dearest Robert, is Whitewhiskers Billy.  He’s an evil, egg-sucking rat.”

“So, that’s Whitewhiskers Billy, is it?”

“Why would that rat be Whitewhiskers Billy?” asked Grandpa as Bobby realized that Grandpa Butch had suddenly appeared at the doorway between the porch and the house.

“Did you hear Horatio call him that?” asked Bobby.

“No, I heard you say it,” said Grandpa.

“Oh.  So, why is he called Whitewhiskers Billy?

“Because his whiskers smell white.  He eats chicken droppings.  It makes them sort of bleached white,” said Horatio.

“Because his whiskers smell white,” said Bobby.

“Smell white?  Horatio tell you that?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Well, I think we should put some rat poison out, maybe in the barn and under the hen house..” said Grandpa.  “That will give old Whitewhiskers Bill something to think about.”

“Will that kill him?” Bobby asked.

“It should.  But we will have to be careful that the dog and the stupid turkens don’t get into it.  We would hate to lose any of them by being less than careful.”

Bobby nodded wide-eyed.  He certainly didn’t want Horatio to get poisoned.  Of course, if it got a turken or two, he wouldn’t be too upset.

“I need to check the flyer I got from the hardware store in Clarion.  I think I remember a sale on a good poison to put in the barn.”  Grandpa left the porch again too.

As Bobby continued to sit in the warm, yellow sunshine with Horatio, he began noticing his bare white legs, how girlish they looked in the sunlight.

“Can you tell if Blueberry is a girl or a boy by smell?”

“She definitely smells girlish.  No boy smell.  No boy pee.  Lots of girly flower smells.”

“I have always believed she is a girl.”

“Yes, and you kinda like her too.  It’s a shame she already has a boyfriend.”

“Horatio!”

“You know I can tell how you feel about her by the scent of romance whenever you’re around her.  And I know that whatever gender-irregularities she may have, you are convinced that she must be a girl.  Remember, I will always know what you are thinking because…”

“Because you are the world’s greatest dog-detective with your all-knowing sniffer.”

“See there?  You are a lot smarter than you let people think you are.  And you are a great imaginer too.”

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Filed under family dog, farm boy, humor, imagination, kids, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

Monster Mashing

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One of the side “benefits” of having diabetes is that it often comes with an extra helping of diabetic depression.  I had the blues really bad this week.  I am not the only member of my family suffering.

So, what do you do about it?

Or, rather, what does a goofy idiot like me do about it?

Especially on a windy day when the air is saturated with pollen and other lovely things that I am absolutely, toxically allergic to?

Well, for one thing, I used the word toxically in this post because it is a funny-sounding adverb that I love to use even though the spell-checker hates it, no matter how I spell or misspell it.

And I bought a kite.

Yes, it is a cheap Walmart kite that has a picture of Superman on it that looks more like Superboy after taking too much kryptonite-based cough syrup for his own super allergies.

But I used to buy or make paper diamond kites just like this one when I was a boy in Iowa to battle the blues in windy spring weather.  One time I got one so high in the sky at my uncle’s east pasture that it was nothing more than a speck in the sky using two spools of string and one borrowed ball of yarn from my mother’s knitting basket.  It is a way of battling blue meanies.

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And I bought more chocolate-covered peanuts.  The chocolate brings you up, and the peanut protein keeps you from crashing your blood sugar.  I have weathered more than one Blue Meanie attack with m&m’s peanuts.

And I used the 1957 Pink and White Mercury of Imagination to bring my novel, The Baby Werewolf, home.  I wrote the last chapter Monday night in the grip of dark depression, and writing something, and writing it well, makes me a little bit happier.

And I have collected a lot of naked pictures of nudists off Twitter.  Who knew that you could find and communicate with such a large number of naked-in-the-sunshine nuts on social media?  It is nice to find other nude-minded naturists in a place that I thought only had naked porn until I started blogging on naturist social media.  Being naked in mind and body makes me happier than I ever thought it would.

And besides being bare, I also like butterflies and books and baseball and birds, (the Cardinals have started baseball season remember) and the end of winter.  “I just remember of few of my favorite things, and then I don’t feel so bad!”  Oh, and I like musical movies like The Sound of Music too.

The monsters of deep, dark depression are being defeated as we speak.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, battling depression, cardinals, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, imagination, nudes, Paffooney, photos, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Horatio T Dogg… Canto 9

At the Drive-In

The A&W drive-in in Belle City was the place to go after a game, especially if you lost and needed consoling.  The A&W, known for its root beer in frosty mugs, had once had car-hops on roller skates, and delivered the food to your car on trays they hung on your window.  But too many trays got spilled, definitely too many spilled into the window of the car directly on the customers, and a few unfortunate falls, and a couple of broken legs, had eventually transformed the place into a sit-down fast-food restaurant on the model of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King.

When Grandpa Butch invited the whole family to go there, he specifically extended the invitation to Mike and Blueberry as well.  Not the usual thing.  And it required two cars to get everybody there.  But Grandpa was paying, and so it was up to him.  Dad and Mom and Bobby and Shane went in the Niland minivan while Grandpa drove Mike and Blueberry in his red Toyota pickup.

They were fortunate to find a booth with room for four and a smaller table with chairs next to it, so that it was kinda like they were seated all together in a fairly crowded Saturday evening gathering place.

“Now, Mike, we don’t want you to hold back on ordering what you and your pretty girlfriend need to eat,” said Grandpa Butch.  “We know the legends about the appetites of the Murphy boys, and we have actually watched Danny eat before.  That was an amazing spectacle at the Wright County fair when he must’ve had at least ten chili dogs in a row.  And we have enough money to cover anything your amazing Murphy appetite can inhale.”

Grandpa was joking and exaggerating like he always did.  And Mike and Blue both knew it.  But the ten-chili-dog thing was actually true, which made the comment all the funnier.

“Why did you want to bring Blue and me here, anyway?” Mike asked/

“Well, we really wanted to thank the two of you for the way you stood up for Bobby after the game.  It takes a special kind of friend to defend someone from bullies that way,” said Dad with a smile.

“Oh, he woulda done it no matter what, Mr. Niland,” said Blueberry.  “Bobby is my good friend.  And Mike does everything he can to please me. And he looks after all the Pirates the same way.”

“Yes, we know he does.  He’s practically the leader of the Pirates,” said Mom, also smiling.

“Oh, no!  Tim Kellogg is the leader of the Pirates.  I am more like his Sir Lancelot, doing all the sword-fighting and stuff,” said Mike, sounding a little upset.

“Yes, we know about the Pirates’ fearless leader,” said Dad. “He’s like a sort of Genghis Kahn or Attila the Hun sort of leader.  In my day, when Brent Clarke was the leader of the Pirates, we thought of him as being a sort of King Arthur.  A ruler, but not one that ever cut anybody’s head off.”

“Oh, Tim is like King Arthur more than Shmengis Kone or Atlas the Hunter,” said Blueberry.  “He’s Mike’s best friend.”

“Grandpa Butch laughed.  “Yes, I’m sure you truly believe that, dear.  And Tim probably thinks it too.”

“But, Blueberry, honey, he wasn’t very nice to you over your little gender problem, was he?”  Bobby’s mom was putting it delicately.  Everybody in Norwall knew that Blueberry had been born a boy with boy parts, but was a girl in her mind from the very start.  And they all knew it because Tim found out and spread the girl’s personal information everywhere.

“Tim knows I’m a girl now, though…”  Blueberry frowned at the table in front of her. “The doctors x-rayed and scanned me, and they found my ovaries on the inside.  My problem was just like a birth defect on the outside.

Bobby didn’t like his parents bringing this thing up when Blueberry and Mike were his guests.  Blue was definitely a girl.  And it wasn’t right to bring up the old scandal thing.  Bobby and Mike didn’t want to hear about it all over again.  And it was embarrassing to Blue, Bobby thought.

“She’s definitely all girl,” said Mike, apparently willing to talk about it more.  “Mom knew it even before the doctor revealed the whole x-ray thing.”

“Yes, and if your mother, Mary Murphy herself, believes it’s so, then it most certainly is,” said Grandpa Butch.  “Even I am afraid to ever argue with her about God’s truth about anything.”

Everyone laughed, and then the topic was apparently forgotten.  And that made Bobby even more happy.

“Bobby was telling Mike and me about Horatio T. Dogg’s war with the barn rats,” said Blueberry as Grandpa started a list of what everyone wanted to order.  Mike had him put down three chili-dogs, two for him and one for Blue.  Mike was not in Danny Murphy’s hot-dog-eating league by any means.

“That’s what his grandpa was telling us too,” said Dad.  “Apparently Horatio can talk now, and solve rat-crimes like a dog version of Sherlock Holmes.”

“Well, of course he can,” said Blue.  “If Bobby said it, it has to be true.”

“Did you ever hear Horatio talk with your own two ears?” asked Shane, looking somewhat sly.

Grandpa wrote down burgers for himself, Dad, Mom, and Shane.

“But I want a chili-dog like Mike and Blue,” said Bobby.

“Sure thing.  And root beer for everybody?”

Everyone nodded, and Grandpa took the order to the counter.

“We all know Horatio is a very smart dog.  And it can almost seem like he’s smart enough to talk,” said Dad.

“But he does talk!  It’s just that only I can hear him.”

“Bobby, you actually thought that you and Blueberry had turned the music teacher into a swan!” said Mike.

“Yes, and we both turned ourselves into young swans and went flying to Belle City to find her and remove the curse,” said Blueberry earnestly.

“No, Blue, you and Brainiac Bobby just got carried away with imaginary stuff during Miss Morgan’s lessons for that Hobbit novel we were reading in her class.  It was all idiot-imagining,” said Mike, distaste for the subject plainly showing on his face.

“You saw the fairies too, didn’t you?  And the magic spells?”  Bobby was trying hard to make Mike remember what he clearly saw when everybody else saw it.

“I saw the drawings Blue made about it.  I heard the stories.  And I did the lessons.  But Tim was lying about there being little people everywhere.  And you two did not fly to Belle City in winter wearing only feathers!  You both made that up and fixed your imaginations on it too much.”

“Mike has a point,” said Mom.  “You know you get carried away with imagination.”

Bobby, looked at the table downhearted.  He almost felt like crying.  That moment of flight through the crisp, cold winter air was so bracing.  And flying above the snow-covered farms had seemed so real.   How could he ever accept that it was not a real thing?

“Sometimes, imagination is a good thing.  It can solve problems that you couldn’t figure out any other way.  And besides, daydreaming and a creative imagination are a sign of intelligence,” said Dad as Grandpa sat the food down on the table in front of him.

“I always thought of imagination like this, it’s the sum of things I can use my mind to take control of,” said Grandpa Butch.  “I mean, the things I most need to happen, the conclusions and solutions I need to come to… well, I use the bowl of electrified noodles in my old head to stir up an answer I create for myself.  The things I need to happen, I make happen with my imagination.  Now, the things that fail, the things I don’t control… well, that’s the universe using its facts and reality to make happen what it needs to happen.  I can’t control that.  Except maybe later I can use my imagination again to rewrite what really happened so I have memories of it that I can live with.”

“Yeah, that’s the way to look it.  Imagination is a good thing if you never use it for evil,” said Dad.

Well, everybody seemed to accept that as the end of the discussion.  Mike wrinkled his nose up like he didn’t understand, or maybe wanted to argue more.  But the food was there.  And Bobby was almost certain that the chili dogs were what kept Mike from saying anything more.  After all, you can’t eat and talk at the same time.

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

Horatio T. Dogg… Canto 6

The Lair of the Evil Professor Rattiarty

“He’s actually daring to come into the barn again,” reported the turncoat barn cat, Greeneyes.

“Has he got that stupid boy with him?  That Bobby fella?” asked Whitewhiskers Billy, the number-three rat in the gang.

“Not just him, but the two fantastical friends, too.”

“You mean the baseball-bat boy that killed ChickenKiller?” asked Stupidrat, the number-last rat now that ChickenKiller was nothing but bones in the gravel by the pump house.

“Not just him.  Also, the beautiful princess that always wears blue clothing and always looks so gorgeous that I almost fall over dead.”

“Horatio T. Dogg is so brazen and conceited, Boss, that he thinks he can dare to come sniffing about your kingdom without so much as asking Greeneyes for permission,” said Darktail Ralph, the number-two rat.

“You must be patient, my anxious minions,” said Professor Rattiarty in an oily voice from the darkest shadows in the stack of haybales.  All you could see of Rattiarty’s hideous face were the two glowing red eyes staring out at everybody from the darkness.  “Sooner or later Horatio will make a mistake.  We will have him fatally outnumbered and make an end to him.  Remember, the old Dogg is getting old.”

“Right, right, Boss. We’ll be patient.”

“Greeneyes, get up on the highest hay bale so the humans can see you.  They will see a barn cat and think that no rats could possibly be around,” ordered Rattiarty.

“Right away, Boss.”

                                                *****

“Look, there’s a barn cat up there,” said Mike.  “There’s no way there are any rats around in here, or the cat would get ‘em.”

“That is a fine-looking cat,” said Blueberry.  “He looks fat enough to have eaten several rats.”

“That’s Greeneyes.  He’s in with the rats.  Rattiarty gives him chicken parts and other food so the corrupt cat will be the lookout for the evil gang of horrible rats.  They are probably up there right behind him, giving him orders, and using him to spy on us.”

“Bobby, you are mentally insane sometimes,” said Mike. “Rattiarty?  I bet you have all of the rats named already, don’t you?”

“Well… yeah.  Horatio sniffs them out and tells me everything.”

“What are their names?” asked Blueberry.

“Well, there’s Darktail Ralph, Rattiarty’s right-hand rat.  And then there’s Whitewhiskers Billy, and Stupidrat, and ChickenKiller… but he’s dead.  Mike, remember the rat you killed with the bat when you and the Pirates were out here doing batting practice?

“Oh, yeah.  So, that rat had a name, did he?” said Mike.

“Of course, he did.  Rats are people too, aren’t they?”

“NO.  Just no.”

“Bobby, I appreciate your wonderful imagination even if Mike doesn’t,” Blueberry said sweetly.

Bobby grinned at her. If only…

                                    *****

“The dog is coming right NOW!” screeched Greeneyes, just before he disappeared from the top of the stack of hay bales.

Horatio T. Dogg, with his green hat on his head and Meerschaum pipe in his mouth, appeared in his place, cooly looking down into Rattiarty’s lair in the hollows between the hay bales.

“So, Professor, we meet again,” said Horatio.

“But not by accident this time.  It was all part of my plan,” said the voice behind the glowing red eyes in the darkness.

“Oh?  How so?”

“I lured you here to show you I survived our last encounter after all.  And my rat forces are growing again.  Did you really think we would be satisfied with just turkens this time?  They are no challenge.  I killed Little Bob with a mere thought.”

“Oh?  It was you that convinced him he was a penguin and could swim underwater in the horse tank?”

“No, I… er, um, I mean… Yes!  I killed him with mind control.”

“I don’t see how.  Little Bob only had a tiny chicken mind.”

“But I have already worked my magic on the Niland family.  Do you know why Grandma Niland passed away?”

“Lung cancer.”

“Ah, but who caused that cancer?”

“Not you?”

“How did she get infected with cancer?”

“Cigarettes in the 50’s when teenagers thought it was cool to smoke?”

“No.  My talents as a carrier for disease. I did that.  And I am warning you, you don’t know how to stop me before the next one dies.”

“What next one?”

“Um, probably the Grandpa.”

“I can stop you by killing you all right here, right now with my teeth and claws.”

“Stupidrat!  Attack!”

“Yeah, let’s attack now guys!” screamed Stupidrat as he stupidly leaped at Horatio’s growling mouth.

The other rats all quickly withdrew into the shadows.

                                    *****

“That’s just one dead rat. And your dog probably grabbed it before the cat could.  We saw him scare the cat away.” Mike was frowning darkly.

“Really, Mike!  Horatio says they were all up there, plotting to kill my Grandpa.  This one sacrificed himself so the others could get away.”

“That’s not exactly what I said,” said Horatio.

“Oh, sure!  An evil rat professor with glowing red eyes.  And they are going to take down Butch Niland, your wise old grandfather!”

“Well, it’s true.  Horatio told me.  Sorta.”

“You and Blue and your imaginations!  I don’t believe you two!”

“I believe you, Bobby.”  Blueberry always believed Bobby, no matter how strange a thing it was that Bobby claimed.

“You both better learn what imagination really is before bad things happen to you both.  You can’t make your way through life by juxst making up stories about it.”

Bobby nodded silently.  Mike was right.  He needed to know what imagination really was, and how God meant for him to use it.

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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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