Category Archives: irony

Really Odd Things are in the “Wrong File”

On my computer I keep a lot of picture files for inspiration both as an artist and a writer.  One of those files is labeled simply the “Wrong File”.  Everything in that picture file is in there for the wrong reason.  Or does a wrong file need to be filled with the wrong stuff for the right reason?  I don’t know.  There is a lot wrong with this world.  The fact that I am going to post stuff from the “Wrong File” is merely proof of that.

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Liking Grumpy Cat posts on Facebook is an oxymoron of the lowest order.  It is an example of what is wrong in the “Wrong File”.

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Certain puns are just so wrong in a fundamental way.  That’s right.  They are both fun and mental.  So that’s wrong.

 

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As an educator I am aware that this thing we thought was true is now an untrue fact.  That’s wrong also.  My left brain tells me so.  But my right brain tells me it feels right.

Yes, these things are wrong.  Just wrong.

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Why did I put this in here?  This is not wrong.  This is right.  So I must’ve put it in the wrong file.  So that’s all right, then.

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Putting this in a file my wife could find on my laptop… Yes, that was wrong.

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Saddle shoes have been wrong for many years now.  I still draw them on the feet of kids, especially girls, especially school-age girls, and that is especially especially wrong because it means I am just too old and out of fashion.’

Boy!  Is that wrong!

These things are all older than me, but I remember two of them.  Is that wrong?

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I’m not sure I believe this is wrong.  So is that wrong?  To believe that it is right, I mean?  I’m probably wrong.

 

 

988289_10201821431282097_1326790710_nMy wife constantly tells me I am wrong… about everything.  And I probably am.  So that is not right.  And if you think that’s my wife in the picture, you would be wrong.  She’s much larger than that in real life.

And many people find surrealism is wrong.  Surreal is when you put wrong things together on purpose to make something that almost seems right.

So that’s what odd about the “Wrong File”,  It is so wrong that it is right.

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Filed under artwork, collage, collecting, goofiness, humor, irony, strange and wonderful ideas about life, surrealism, wordplay

Politics in an Alien World

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I am working on the end of my sci-fi comedy novel, Stardusters and Space Lizards.  It is about an alien world that is dying from too much warfare and ignoring of pollution-created climate change.  So today, after personally declaring war on the Trumpinator yesterday, I want to talk about politics.  Not Earth politics.  Alien politics.  Any resemblance to real-world politics will be coincidental, or the result of truth being far stranger than fiction.

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Let’s be thoughtful for a moment and analyze the way politics works on an alien planet.  The political world always seems to devolve into two sides.  Remember, we are talking made-up alien worlds here.  So let’s give the two sides completely made up names.  Let’s call them Dumbocrats and Ratpublicans.  They are nothing like we have here on Earth.  These are aliens, remember, nothing like us.

On one side you have the party that is totally self-centered and cares more about business and profits and what the individual can gain from those than it does about anything else, even insignificant things like other alien people’s lives.  These are the conservative, me-party folks who try to maximize benefits for themselves and the relatively small circle of alien people they care about and think of as their own.  We’ll call them Ratpublicans, again, totally randomly, for no particular reason.

Then, on the other side, you have the selfless ones, the ones who are more interested in making everybody happy, an exercise in futility that invariably leaves no one happy in the long run.  I mean, if you give everything away to help others, eventually you are left with nothing.  It is the reason liberal alien people often starve to death.  It is also the reason that these selfless beings get so used to being poor and having nothing of their own.  We’ll call them Dumbocrats, only because it is the name we have left over.

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What always works best is when neither side gets everything they want.  It is far better that the two sides grab the Enchilada of  Happiness from opposite sides and pull with relatively equal force.  That way it stays about in the middle and no one gets the whole enchilada.  If the Ratpublicans get the whole thing, then the most powerful, ruthless, and evil among them will selfishly eat what they want and horde the rest, letting everyone else, even less-powerful Ratpublicans starve.   If the Dumbocrats get the whole thing, they will give small bits to everyone, even the space rats and space pigeons, and visiting Space Goons from other planets, and no one will have as much as they want.  Keeping the whole enchilada in the middle of the great political tug-of-war is the whole trick to making things stay balanced and under control.

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If something throws the whole system out of balance, say an orange-headed alien in a gold-colored fright wig suddenly uses the magic of corrupt business practices to seize control of the Enchilada of  Happiness, then the whole system starts to break down.

Now, you may have noticed already that instead of outer space aliens, I have used old movie clowns to illustrate this essay.  I think it is entirely possible that the best people to listen to when it comes to the matter of politics and what to do about them are the clowns, the comedians, the mockers, and the fools.  They have looked at the way things are with a keen eye to find what they can make fun of and make us laugh about.  But because they are looking with a keen eye, often they are seeing the truth for what it is.  Did you ever hear what Charlie Chaplin had to say?

Of course, we all know this whole discussion is about aliens on other planets.  It doesn’t apply here.  How could it?  We are nothing like them.  We’re smarter and better and have all the answers… if only we would take a moment to realize that we do.

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Filed under aliens, commentary, goofy thoughts, humor, insight, irony, politics, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Tumbling the Trumpinator

It has gone beyond the realm of credibility.  How can a pumpkin-headed orangutan with a belly full of racial hatred and Islamophobia still be nominally running this country?  Has he not committed enough irredeemable sins to be sent to Hell, directly to Hell, do not pass GO and do not collect $200!?  I think he stole all the “Get out of jail free” cards before the game ever started.

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I have never called this Twitter twit-wit my president.  I never voted for him.  He did not win the popular vote.  He would not have won the electoral college without Republican cheating at voter suppression and Russian influence through email chicanery.  But the terrible things he has done so far have not gotten him removed from office.  Republicans still treat him as if he were a rational adult.  And Fox News is not only putting lipstick on the pig, they are covering him in red, white, and blue frosting and molding him into the shape of an American Eagle.  Why do we put up with these tactics?

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Perhaps other cartoonists and I are the only ones who see him for what he really is.  He’s an ignorant con man put into a position of power by billionaires so they can foist their evil agenda on us and have him rubber-stamp it with faux legitimacy.

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The betrayal of the DACA Dreamers was fifteen straws beyond the last straw for me.  Who is planning to remove him from office immediately?  I want to help.  I don’t believe in solving problems with guns, but I can throw a mean banana cream pie of satire and sarcasm.  I’m actually Hell at pie-whacking faces.   I can attempt to hurt him with rotten tomatoes of jokery and the silly string  of mockery too.  But even the image of this buffoon in cheap clothing with long red ties is immune to the assaults of mere humor.  He never gets the joke, and it is never on him.  It is on us instead.

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He hurts too many good people by taking away things that they need.  He may have damaged the way sick people access health care to the point that many, including me, will die for lack of funds.  He de-values human life by pardoning racist criminals like Arpaio and praising malevolent dictators like Putin.  He puts human life at risk by taunting another irrational man-baby who also has nukes to play chicken with.

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And no effort to remove him from office for crimes which he obviously committed and shows no signs of anything but guilt about will be made by the party now in power.

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So what will you do to bring back our country and our supposed sanity?  Tell me.  I want to hear a plan.  I stand ready with foam rubber whack bats to take the best shots I am capable of to help.  And I am not the only one.  (Truly, I drew none of the cartoons in this post myself.  Good cartoonists are legion in this day and age.)

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Filed under angry rant, cartoon review, cartoons, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, humor, irony, pessimism, rants, satire, self pity

The Super-Sucky Start To School 2017

Four years ago now I started school for the last time as a teacher.  I didn’t know at the start of the year that it would be the last.  I had planned to teach until I died if possible.  But it wasn’t possible.  By March I had to make a hard decision and report to the administration that I was going to retire.  Because of deteriorating health and family difficulties with finance and schooling for the kids, I had no other workable choice.  I really doubted four years ago that I would still be alive four years later.

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Today, I dropped my daughter off to start her sophomore year in high school.  This is actually the second week for number two son, who can now drive himself to school, saving further wear and tear on my aging, disintegrating self.  Will I still be alive next year to start a fifth year of retirement?  Does it matter?  I am already victorious in ways in which I didn’t believe I would be.

And then, Hurricane Harvey decided to show up and remind us that we are all mortal and none of us have a guarantee that we will get to start another school year.  Of course, the hurricane is not directly threatening me.  It is in Houston, and I am a long way away in the Dallas area.  But it still has an effect.  I have former students and their families living in the Houston area.  One of them told me she was safe on Facebook, but she was shaken by the devastation she saw around her.  She wanted to help in rescue efforts.   I told her to please take care of herself first, that she could only help others after she was firmly okay herself.  She told me that she always loved my class and made me cry.  I know she will probably be all right, but she will take risks and act all heroic without regard for herself.  That’s just who she is.  And I have other former students in that area just like her that I haven’t heard from yet.

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And while the hurricane gives him cover, the orange-faced Bozo in chief has had a great couple of weeks encouraging racists and pardoning racist criminals and possibly even sending my number one son to Afghanistan in a surge that goes against campaign promises to not get us more involved in foreign wars.  Now he wants to take Afghan resources and enrich himself and the evil corporate slugs he works constantly to enrich.  Jabba the Trump in his full glory.  I didn’t vote for this parasite, but despite the fact that I have no voter guilt to overcome, I am definitely not happy with him.  And how much more damage does he have to do before somebody stops him?  The party in control hates him too, but they can do all the evil they want and he’ll ultimately get the blame, so their voter-suppression tactics will continue to let them hold on to power.

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But, even though I still have to remove the swimming pool or risk losing the house, and I have to finish the paperwork for becoming bankrupt, school has started one more time… in spite of the fact that everything around it really, really sucks… in the sense of a vacuum cleaner.

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Filed under angry rant, battling depression, feeling sorry for myself, humor, irony, Paffooney, politics, teaching, Texas

Books That Make You Hurt

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Yes, I read this book.  Yes, it scared the poop out of me.  Yes, it made me cry.  This is a uniquely horrific horror story that is so realistic that you know that it has actually happened in real life somewhere, sometime.  Only the names of the characters would be different.

I have a deep abiding respect for Richard Peck as a writer.  He earned that with his books A Year Down Yonder and A Long Way from Chicago.  Those books made me laugh so hard it blew chocolate milk out of my nose.  And, yes, I was drinking chocolate milk at the time.  They are so realistic because the people in those stories are real people.  I know those people personally.  Of course, they have different names in real life.

But Are You In the House Alone? is a very different book from those other two masterpieces.  It tears your heart out and eats your liver because it is a first person narrative in the voice of a high school girl being stalked by a sexual predator.  Everything that happens to Gail in the high school, at home, and at the house where she babysits is hyper-real with horror movie levels of attention to detail.  I don’t wish to be a spoiler for this well-written book, but the narrator does not die in the book and it definitely does not have a happy ending.  For anyone who has the amount of empathy I do, and in many ways becomes the narrator-character by reading, reading a book like this can physically hurt.  A teacher like me has lived through horrible things like this happening to students before, it even happened to me as a boy, and it adds the slings and arrows of those things being re-lived as you read.

This is not the only book that has ever done this sort of damage to my heart strings.  I remember the pain from the conclusion of Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop.  You root for Little Nell and boo Daniel Quilp.  But the bad guy wins.  No happy ending can linger in the harp-strings of your memory-feeling song as long as a tragic outcome does.  I was there with Scout in that ridiculous costume in the dark when Bob Ewell was attacking her brother Jem in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.  That story was filled with wise and laughable things, but the stark horror of that climactic moment nearly wiped all the good feelings away, if not for the heroics of ghostly Boo Radley whose timely intervention brings it all back before the novel ends.  It horrifies me to admit it, but I was there, too, in the moment when the boys all turn on Simon on the beach with their sharpened sticks in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.  They mistook him for the monster.  I still haven’t fully recovered from that reading trauma.

The thing about books that hurt to read which makes it essential that I never try to avoid them, is that they can add more depth and resonance to your soul than any light and fluffy piece ever could.  Life is much more like Lord of the Flies than it is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  I am sadder but wiser for having read Are You In the House Alone?  I am recommending it to other readers like me who don’t so much live to read as they read in order to live.  Not because it is easy and good to read, but because it is hard and essential to read.  It will hurt you.  But it will leave you like it leaves its narrator, damaged, but both alive and purely resolved to carry on.

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Why Do You Think That? Part 5

On a sleepy summer Sunday it is only natural to think thoughts about God.  And I have to include Jesus and Christianity in all of that meditation.  After all, as a boy I attended Sunday school on Sunday morning in the Rowan Methodist Church and then would attend the Sunday service with my mother and father, brother, and two sisters.  We would sing songs from the Methodist hymnal.

But here’s the kicker.  Over time I have studied and learned science, how the world really works, and how people really act.  I have noticed that most of the most intelligent writers, scientists, and thinkers are atheists and agnostics.  I have had to make my peace with these things;

  • There is no life after death.
  • Jesus may not have been a real person.
  • If he was real, he had very little in common with the Jesus we worship.
  • Jesus doesn’t need to be real to have value in my life.
  • There is no white-haired old man sitting on a throne in heaven.
  • There is no heaven.
  • If there is no heaven, then there certainly is no hell.
  • We are all connected… even those of us who don’t live on this planet, in this galaxy.

So I guess, that makes me an atheist who believes in the existence of God.  And because of this moronic oxymoron, my thesis now has to be; Even atheists have a need for religion.

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Saint Raphael

Yes, when it comes to religion, I am an idiot.  Just like all the rest of you are.  Mark Twain once said something like, “Religion is the firmly held belief in what you know ain’t so.”  That misquote, of course, is taken entirely on faith from a vague memory of a passage in the short story “Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven”

Of course, I am not saying that I find no value in religion.  I was associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses for almost twenty years because that was the religion my wife clings to.  They are a Bible-based religion with a strict literalist interpretation of scripture who are expecting the end of the world, this “wicked system of things” at any moment now and go around knocking on doors and giving away free Bible literature with their own Truth professionally printed to save as many of the unbelievers as possible.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have never really fully accepted what they believe.  But I have freely participated.  Their belief system makes them some of the most loving, self-sacrificing people you could ever meet.  They are non-violent and believe in helping everybody no matter how far they have to bend over backwards to do it.  There are very good things in the Bible about living a moral life that are absolutely true and will make you and your children into better people.  But here’s the most important thing about living that kind of life.  If you are doing it for the promised rewards of eternal life, then you are doing it wrong.  The goodness you do in this life and the love you both give and receive is the only heaven there is.  Hardship taken on as a sacrifice to a loving God gets you nothing but the feeling that you have done the right thing.  But let me assure you, that feeling is a treasure greater than fine gold.  That mental state you create for yourself is the whole point and purpose of religion.

 

I do realize that liars are the people most likely to say, “Believe me…” before telling you something is true, but believe me, I don’t expect you to accept my cold clinical dissection of what religion is in my world view.  I want you to believe whatever you believe is true about Jesus, Jehovah, Allah, or Budda…  or nirvana or existentialism or science.  I accept you and love you for who you are.  The important thing is that we are all connected.  Most religions make us nicer to each other and make us more loving and kind, as long as we are not allowing ourselves to fall victim to the dark side that exists in every religion.  When your religion tells you to hate something, especially when it tells you to do something to punish that something you hate, especially especially if that something you hate is another person of some kind, then that’s where Eve is biting the apple, that’s where all the trouble starts.

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Don’t let atheists tell you they don’t believe in anything.  I hear Neal DeGrasse Tyson talk about being made of star stuff and teach about the connections we have with everything in the universe.  Listen to him yourself on Cosmos talking about the wonders of science and the human quest to know, and tell me if you don’t hear hymns to God in his reverent explanations.  He just knows God in a different form than you do.

So here is my humble conclusion on a sleepy summer Sunday morning when my meditations drift back to a boyhood of telling Jesus jokes in the down-time during Sunday school.  I am an atheist who believes in a loving God.  And even atheists need God in their life.

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Unfinished Business

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This oil painting is called “The Unfinished Stag”

You never quite reach the end of the list of things you ought to do.  Some lazy days it is hard to even write the words you desperately need to write.  I have unfinished business in this life.  Not just the need to finish bankruptcy paperwork and finish my transition to poor retired English teacher on a fixed income.  Not just the never ending yard work and home maintenance and repair, some of which involves fines from the city for not completing.  I still have pictures to paint, cartoons to draw, and stories to tell.  That last part of me is probably the most important unfinished business, because it represents the legacy I will leave behind.  I know I am only a nobody novelist who has some mediocre art talent.  But it is the immortal part of me never-the-less.

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This is an unfinished illustration that ties into my vast pile of unfinished science fiction dreams.

I did just finish a book.  I reread Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

Here’s my Goodreads Review;  Five Stars

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Fiction as great art doesn’t get any more magical and soul-restoring than this book, perhaps the best that Mitch Albom ever wrote, and that’s saying a lot. The last line of this book is worth all the reading you’ve ever done in your life. You must read this book BEFORE you meet your five.

But you read to the end of a book like this, and you realize, you will never be truly finished with it.  For as long as you live you will be drawn back to it, remembering the story, remembering the feelings it evoked, the chances you will have to recommend it to others, and the way it informs the way you live your own life.  There is no way to ever finish a book like that… or like To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, or Lord of the Flies by William Golding, or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.  I could do a whole book about books I will never be finished with.

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This too is an unfinished painting.  The black at the bottom was supposed to be something else, but I left it black and liked it that way. at least until I cropped it and cut the Dust Man’s legs off at the knees.

And so I have so much unfinished business to take care of, I really didn’t come up with a good idea for this essay.  So what will I write about today?  I guess I will just have to leave it… unfinished.

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