Category Archives: irony

Cissy Moonskipper

She scrambled over the railing and made it hurriedly to her brother’s side. She scraped her right knee in the effort. He was lying where he fell in the middle of the arboretum. The sky portal was still open to the stars, especially Veda 257, the star whose system the ship was now a temporary part of. Bright starlight streamed in to nourish the food plants and her late mother’s flowers.

But when she reached Wosely Moonskipper, he was no longer alive. The Lupin’s slug-thrower had penetrated his energy shield and hit him in his stupid melon of a head.

“How could you do that to me, Wose? How could you leave your baby sister all alone aboard a starship going nowhere in an unexplored star system?”

Of course, the dummy didn’t answer. This was, however, the first time he had an actual good excuse for it.

She looked over at the smoking pile of debris that was all the derfbag Lupin space-werewolf left behind as Wosely had disintegrated him. Stupid Stardog pirate! He got what he deserved.

But, wait! The pirate had brought his vehicle aboard in order to try to get ahold of the Moonskipper family spacecraft.

She lamely spent a dozen extra minutes trying to get Wose to raise himself from the dead. But 53rd Century medicine didn’t work like that. Full resurrections had to be carefully planned ahead of time. Wose hadn’t planned in the early morning hours to accidentally allow a dog-headed alien pirate to come aboard and murder him. At least he had the good sense to shoot back before he went down. No telling what would’ve become of twelve-year-old Cissy if he hadn’t.

Then she went to inspect the Lupin’s remaining possessions. In the docking bay she found the little two-man space skiff, an anti-gravity pod with a sub-light engine. A wonderful thing to have if she hadn’t lost Wose. the only one who could drive the thing. That was the good thing about old Wose. At thirty-five he knew how to build, fix, or repair practically anything that could travel in space.

That was the next problem to think about. She was alone on the starship now. Since Mom died and her father went so crazy with grief that Wose had to maroon him on that jungle moon seven months ago to prevent him from flying the ship into the heart of the nearby star, they had simply wandered. Nobody remaining on board knew how to navigate other than randomly drifting from star system to star system by line of sight.

Food was no problem. The arboretum produced all the organic matter they needed to create food from the replicator. And Wose had taught her how to scoop fuel from the outer levels of the clouds in a gas-giant. But how was she going to pilot the thing? And what would she do when something broke down?

She was moping about in the bridge when she happened to open the right storage drawer in the captain’s table. There were two books inside that immediately caught her eye.

She grinned to herself. She still had to see to Wose’s funeral. But she was grateful that Mom had taught her to read. She now possessed the ship’s owner’s manual that explained enough about everything to make life on a starship possible, and a copy of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.

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Filed under aliens, humor, irony, Paffooney, science fiction, short story

Drawing from the Past

It is almost impossible to accurately draw from the future. One of the tests of good science fiction is how much of it finds its way into reality over time.

Computers and communicators and scanners and material printers are doing things daily now that were predicted as fantastical possibilities in the Star Trek episodes of the 1960’s.

Jules Verne’s novels predicted men walking on the moon and the existence of nuclear submarines patrolling the depths of the sea.

George Orwell predicted even worse things when it comes to government electronic surveillance and governmental control of everything they can take control of.

But it has never really been the future that my writing, as a fantasist/surrealist, has been about.

All of my writing is set either before the year 2000, or 3000 years in the future in the 51st Century and beyond. And all of the science fiction involved is really more about the past than it is even about the present. These drawings of the Civil War bugle boy and the Shakespearian portrait of Prospero, Ferdinand, and Miranda, were all drawn from either photos or paintings or woodcut prints from the distant past.

In my writing I don’t try to predict the future. I write about people who are basically the same now as they were in the 16th Century. In truth, only the costumes, props, and stage technology change over time. The actors in the great performance always play the same basic characters.

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Filed under irony, nostalgia, old art, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, surrealism

Interview with a Booger-Man

Eli Tragedy, the old Wizard of the Lower Caverns, returned from Dunsanytowne with his apprentice, Bob, carrying their weekly groceries in Bob’s bag of holding.

“Do you think Mickey finished washing the curtains while we were gone?” Bob innocently asked.

Poor Bob. He was not particularly smart. Sometimes he forgot to wear pants.

But the grumbling old wizard, half-elf, half-human, and half -fermented gingleyberry juice, had to admit, at least to himself, that Poor Bob was far more likeable than that smelly, uppity, idiotic were-rat that was his second apprentice. That lazy, stupid half-rodent was no end of trouble. Maybe Eli needed to give Mickey one of his three halves to try and complete the boy. But not the half-fermented half.

“So, when’s the next full moon, Bob? When does that rat-thing turn back into a real boy so I can smack his behind with the rod of discipline and have him actually feel it?”

“Master, Mickey’s curse specifies that he can only be a real boy for a week on the next blue moon… and that’s not for a long time in the future.”

“Real shame, that is.”

Of course, when they went inside the wizard’s sandstone tower. Mickey was trying to use Eli’s magic hat to clean the flying-monkey poop off of the curtains, and was casting the scrubbing spell backwards, thus increasing the foul dirt that wouldn’t even be there if he hadn’t had the flying-monkey party without getting permission from Eli first.

“Mickey! Stop that! You are supposed to say, ‘Removere simia faecibus exturbandis opitulatur’ not ‘Addere simia faecibus exturbandis opitulatur!”

“Oops!” said Mickey.

“Oh, no! Not you!” said the mysteriously grim stranger sitting at the kitchen table.

The stranger didn’t so much stand up with his ax from his chair at the table as UNCOIL with his ax from the chair at the table.

“Mickey, who is this stranger you didn’t have permission to invite into our tower?”

“He says he is the Booger-Man, Master.”

“That’s Boogeyman, rat-boy.”

Mickey shrugged. “I thought Booger-Man sounded more correct.”

“Ah, so you are here to rob a poor old man’s sandstone hovel?”

“No! Not now that I know it’s YOUR tower!” the Boogerman said vehemently. “You don’t recognize me?”

“No. Should I?”

“It’s me, Pollox the Highwayman. Although, you had probably better call me Paw-Lucks now.”

“Ah, yes! You tried to steal from me on the road to the Cillyburg Cathedral.”

“Yes, and all you had was this magic ax You told me it would make me into an entirely new man.”

“The Wildman’s Ax of Magical Tax Avoidance and Soldier Slaying. I remember it well. It seems to have worked quite like it was supposed to.”

“Every time I fought I soldier, he slew me. And when I returned to life I had a new patch of shaggy white fur, or a new fang, or a bad case of mange.”

“And nobody ever asked you to pay taxes again, did they?”

“I won’t rob you this time, wizard. Just take back the ax and make me human again.”

“Can’t do it. I believe in paying my taxes. But, you can have Mickey. The boy can carry the ax for you.”

The Booger-man took one look at the young were-rat, turned even more pale than the white he already was, and ran out of the tower roaring in fear.

“Addere simia…”

“Stop it, Mickey! That’s the wrong one again!”

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Filed under characters, Dungeons and Dragons, humor, irony, Paffooney, satire, short story, writing humor

Classroom Clownery (Not to be confused with Sean Clownery… He’s James Blond)

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See Dick?

See Jane?

See Sally?

See Dick run?

See Jane run?

See Sally…?   Wait a minute!  Why don’t I remember Sally?

Did Dick forget to feed Spot and Spot was forced to kill and eat Sally?

No…  I had Dick and Jane books in Kiddy-garter and they did have Sally in them.  And Spot never killed anyone.  But with all the running she did, Sally did not do anything memorable.  If my teacher, Miss Ketchum, had told the Spot eats Sally story, I’m sure I would’ve remembered Sally better and learned to read faster.

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But I actually did learn to read faster because there was a Cat in the Hat, and a Yertle the Turtle, and because Horton the elephant heard a Who, and a Grinch stole Christmas.  Yes, humor is what always did it for me in the classroom.  Dr. Seuss taught me to read.  Miss Mennenga taught me to read out loud.  And in seventh grade, Mr. Hickman taught me to appreciate really really terrible jokes.    And those are the people who twisted my arm… er, actually my brain… enough to make me be a teacher who taught by making things funny.  There were kids who really loved me, and principals who really hated me.  But I had students come back to me years later and say… “I don’t remember anything at all from my classes in junior high except when you read The Outsiders out loud and did all those voices, and played the Greek myth game where we had to kill the giants with magic arrows, and the stupid jokes you told.”  High praise indeed!

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I think that teaching kids to laugh in the classroom was a big part of teaching them how to use the language and how to think critically.    You find what’s funny in what you learn, and you have accidentally examined it carefully… and probably etched it on the stone part of your brain more memorably than any other way you could do it.  And once it’s etched in stone, you’re not getting that out again any time soon.

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Humor makes you look at things from another point of view, if for no other reason, then simply because you are trying to make somebody laugh.  For instance, do you wonder like I do why the Cat in the Hat is trying to pluck the wig off of Yelling Yolanda who is perched on the back of yellow yawning yak?  I bet you can’t look at those two pictures positioned like that and not see what I am talking about.  Of course, I am not betting money on it.  I am simply talking Iowegian… a totally different post.

But the point is, humor and learning go hand in hand.  It takes intelligence to get the joke.  Joking makes you smarter.  And that is why the class clowns in the past… the good and funny ones… not the stupid and clueless ones… were always my favorite students.

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Filed under clowns, goofiness, high school, humor, irony, kids, philosophy, teaching, word games

Merry Christmas… (maybe)

This holiday is going to be different. Different from the holiday I grew up with. Different than the celebrationless non-holiday I lived with for twenty years. And different from the new traditions we established, my kids and I, as we pulled away from my wife’s religion. The pandemic affects everything.

I was born into a family of Iowa Methodists living in North Central Iowa in a tiny farm town called Rowan.

I remember Christmas being the most magical time of year. I believed in Santa Claus. I felt like the Christmas magic that we saw in seasonal specials on TV in black and white were so real… the realest reality there could be…even if Andy Williams wasn’t the host of the program. Candy canes and Christmas trees and sitting on Santa’s lap being terrified of getting it wrong… and making him think I was asking for a talking Chatty Kathy doll even though I was a boy… FOR MY SISTER, SANTA! FOR MY SISTER… Oh, gawd, that really went wrong. And we had family gatherings where we ate pot-luck family meals with Swedish meatballs and turkey and mashed potatoes with brown gravy and casseroles of fifteen different kinds and nuts and candy…eating ourselves into a semi-stupor as we also did only three and a half weeks before at Thanksgiving.

And presents. Everybody gave presents. And Christmas Carols in Church.

But time goes on. You grow out of believing in Santa Claus. You even grow out of believing in Andy Williams. Perry Como was better. And it was getting so commercial. And Christmas shows we loved as kids seemed so simple and lame when watched again as young adults.

And then I married a Jehovah’s Witness. If you are not aware of it, Christmas originated as a pagan holiday, the Roman Saturnalia. It was a night of feasts and orgies and excess. And Jehovah’s Witnesses believe their beliefs are the only true beliefs, and celebrating Christmas is of Satan. I celebrated Christmas for the last time in 1994. I married in 1995.

For the next twenty years I did not celebrate Christmas. At least, not out loud where Brothers and Sisters in the Truth could hear. And the season became very austere and sanitized for me by the religious integrity of those around me in the faith.

But there were friends in the faith that lost their faith and left the congregation permanently. And the people around me changed. And I was beset by illnesses, mine and my family’s. And Jehovah’s Witnesses are very good at helping the sick. But, apparently only for others, not me and mine. They began turning away.

I am probably disfellowshipped now. They have turned away from me, and I am now isolated from all those who used to be friends and acquaintances. My wife is still a member of the congregation. And this is good because she desperately needs to believe. It is a good life for her and keeps her relatively well. But I know they disfellowshipped me, even though nobody told me so like they always do in such cases. My wife barely talks to me now. And this is probably because members of the congregation are supposed to shun the disfellowshipped, even if they are family.

But I bare no one ill will. That may be part of the problem. The Bible directive is to “Hate what is bad.” And blood transfusions and psychiatry are both bad things according to the Witnesses’ understanding of Bible commands.

I didn’t need any transfusions, and though I have significant stress and diabetic depression, I was never hospitalized for that. But I did kinda fake some disfellowshippable offenses so that I would be the one, and my wife would still be able to be a Witness. She needs it more than I do.

And, to be quite honest, I need to feel a little bit of Christmas now in my old age and infirmity. After all, it is a holiday all about making sacrifices in order to give gifts to others. I know that this post will make Jehovah’s Witnesses cringe. But now that they are shunning me, I guess they won’t be seeing this anyway. And I wish them a Merry Christmas in spite of it all.

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Filed under feeling sorry for myself, humor, irony, magic, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Phantasms of Phoniness

Some of us believe mildly stupid things, and all of us get a multitude of things wrong.

But there are many of us who know that most of what we see and hear is not true, and some of that is propaganda, lies, and manipulation intended to exploit us and cause us to lose something for the benefit of others.

Our fearless, if not overly-blessed-with-brains, crew.

We are trying to set the sails of our ship of State again, and sail onward toward a better future. But after four years under a mad captain seeking white whales of ego, we still haven’t finished throwing the foam-at-the-mouth Ahab overboard. He’s got 18 boatswains from red-sailed ships to petition the harbormaster to throw our newly-chosen captain into the sea and let him sail us back out into the typhoon. Enough, already! Our mutiny was justified to try to save the whole ship.

The red ships all firmly believe the lie that we are better off under elephantine officers, and apparently, they have the right to tell us who our captain should be, even after we decided that ourselves.

Here are a few of the things too many of us believe because the red captains say so;

  1. Money belongs in the hands of the few who have already been in charge for generations. They know how to use it best for the good of all. That is; pay any price for their own comfort and benefit, and that of their families who will make the same decisions after they are gone. And the rest of us, if we don’t make them increasing profits for decreasing wages, deserve to be homeless, get sick, and die.
  2. Anything can be justified, as long it profits the business owners and corporate investors. Only the already wealthy deserve to have money.
  3. If we pooled all the world’s wealth, and then we distributed if fairly according to need, all the billions currently alive on Earth could have decent, comfortable lives. We could also battle the climate-change crisis and restore the planet. And rich people could still keep more than they need to survive. But those who control the money now are allowed to choose not to do that.

I have grown a little tired of stupid people telling me how stupid I am because I don’t believe what it is apparently comfortable for them to believe… and they want me to stop being stupid and believe what they believe.

But I know I am stupid most of the time and take steps to try to be a little less stupid a little more often. And I wish they would give it a try too.

Okay. I am done yelling now. Nobody heard me anyway.

But we should tie an anchor around foaming Ahab’s neck and toss him into the sea.

And I don’t believe I am the Emperor of Stupid for saying so.

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Filed under angry rant, grumpiness, humor, irony, Paffooney

So Little Time

This picture of my two sons was drawn in 1981, almost fifteen years before the oldest boy was born. How did I know that I would have two boys before I ever met or even heard of my wife? How did I get it right that the older boy would be almost exactly four years older than the younger one? Pure coincidence, if your cherished religious beliefs allow you to believe in that. Personally I think that the dream that inspired this picture was proof of the ability of a dreamer to dream outside the boundaries of physical time. After all, time is merely a measure of matter traveling through space, is it not? If you nullify the effects of distance, all time becomes one time. You know, timey-wimey stuff.

Amazingly, this photo was taken fifteen years ago. From left to right, ages 3, 6, and 10. The Princess, Henry, and Dorin (though not their real names, their fictional names.)

Hard to believe it is now 18, 21, and 25.

Where does time go?

When did I get so old?

In 1965, the year I recently rewrote my Christmas list for, I was nine.

The world was all black and white back then. At least, that’s what all the photos taken with the old Browning box camera showed.

My mother and father were married in January of 1956. My parents were both children during World War II.

My maternal grandfather, Grandpa Aldrich, was born in 1911. The farm he lived his whole life on was established in Wright County Iowa in the 1880s.

A lot of good water has flowed under the metaphorical bridge in my 64 years of life. But where has it gone? To shores far away? Or is it still there even if the river has dried up?

Time, by its very nature, is a mystery and quite unknowable. And who is to say that all time is not one time? And all things are therefore one thing. Would my Great-Great Grandpa recognize me, and know me by name? I’ll have to ask him when I see him.

(WordPress should not have given me all these new features to wear out if they really didn’t want me to play with them. Aren’t you doing the same thing with yours?)

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Filed under family, goofy thoughts, humor, irony, nostalgia, Paffooney

Thinking About Thinking with a Thought-free Thinker

Yes, today is another in a long, tepid series of Art-Day posts, but it is also about metacognitive thinking. Specifically thinking about thinking using pictures to think with. (Maybe that title should say, “Free-Thought Thinker” rather than, “Thought-Free.”)

To start with, what does a person actually see when they close their eyes? My brain does not color everything on the inside of my eyelids black. Even in the dark of night with no nightlight so that nothing shines through my eyelids, my brain interprets the dark as shapes, patterns, and colors. Hence the inspiration for this picture.

But my brain is never satisfied with raw shapes, colors, and patterns. It has to interpret ideas into them. The mass of yellow and black resolves into a butterfly, or a sunflower, or an etude by J.S. Bach. The pink mass becomes a blond girl playing the music in my head…. a girl from piano-lesson days in the early 70’s. But naked. The way I always thought about her while sitting and waiting for my piano lesson and listening to hers. How else does a boy think about a pretty girl when he is fourteen?

And as the items in the picture take shape, they do also begin to tell a story. Who is this Dr. Seabreez? Is he a shaman of the Republic of Lakotah People? Is he a white man? Seabreez is not a Native American name. The naked boy by the tent flap has a crutch, and there is a mouse silhouetted nearby. Does that make him a medical doctor? A veterinarian? A professor of Native-American Studies? The mind begins to piece together a script.

But here we see that Dr. Seabreez has set up a new practice in Japan. Again the boy near the door has a crutch and there is a silhouetted mouse near him. But now the other boy has horns on his forehead. Why horns? And pointed ears? Is he a Doctor of Magic and Wizardry? Demonology perhaps? And what is an anthropomorphized panda doing in Japan? That’s clearly a Japanese castle in the distance. The collar Kanji is definitely Japanese in character.

And now there are horns again. Three of them by my count. And another naked character. But a Grecian background. The mind is here making connections between the pictures, noticing patterns. Appreciating colors. And turning every detail over in the mind’s eye, evaluating and analyzing.

Art, especially on Saturdays, totally engages the mind. That is one of the reasons we keep art around to look at again and again. It is the purpose of art to make us see something. And not just once, superfluously. We must see it in depth, looking beyond the surface.

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Filed under art criticism, artwork, humor, irony, magic, Paffooney

Why I Must Be a Spiritual Nudist

I do now admit to being a nudist… or naturist if you prefer. To me that means, if given a choice, I would prefer to be naked all the time. Especially in a natural setting outdoors. I have probably spent more time in the company of naked people than you have, even though I was never myself nude in a social setting until my one and only visit to the Bluebonnet Naturist Park in Alvord, Texas. I was a visitor at the clothing-optional apartment complex at Manor Road in Austin a number of times in the 1980s when my girlfriend’s sister was a resident there. They asked me to disrobe a couple of times, but, as a visitor, I exercised my option. And I corresponded with Floridian nudists by letter, email, and subscriptions to nudist publications through the 1990s.

“Nature Walk”

But it is very nearly an ironic notion that I am literally a nudist. My wife is opposed to nakedness for religious reasons. Although members of my family were fine with skinny-dipping in our pool until it developed fatal foundation cracks, we no longer tolerate nudity at home, except in the shower and the bedroom behind closed doors. And being naked outdoors, though it always used to be good for my health, now is a problem with my increased susceptibility to the return of skin cancer, and the fact that my psoriasis sores, in addition to being ghastly to look at, get dry, cracked, and bloody with a chance of infection far easier than they ever used to. And I have more of them.

If I am being honest, I am not really a literal nudist anymore. I don’t get naked much at all anymore. I do correspond via Twitter with other nudists, especially other nudist authors and cartoonists. But that has its down sides too. Twitter followers who are evangelical Christians un-follow me instantly when they actually see a nudist-friendly post or comment from me. Nudists are apparently among the vast multitudes of sinners destined for Hell. And being part of the Twitter-nudist community also seems to attract unwanted attention from those who love pornography, as well as those who wish to exploit the “prurient interests” of others (which, in my humble experience, is not the interests of real nudists.)

So…

I have always found it challenging to be an actual nudist. I do the best I can, but, as I have repeatedly written in other posts about the subject, I was sexually assaulted by an older boy when I was ten. I spent years overcoming an aversion to ever being seen naked by others.

That aversion prevented me from embracing a positive body image of myself for the rest of my childhood and well into my young adulthood. I was deprived of the joys of skinny-dipping in the Iowa River and being comfortable in my own skin. That was a definite drawback when it came to showers in school after P.E. Class, or showers after football, basketball, or track practice. I was robbed of my sense of naked childhood innocence. I felt like I had a terrible secret to keep, and I was secretly a monster for having naked feelings.

So, in order to be more like a valid, real person, Mickey, as a nudist, has committed himself to being a Spiritual Nudist. A Spiritual Nudist doesn’t hide anything by wearing clothing. A Spiritual Nudist is honest, and tells the naked truth. And a Spiritual Nudist doesn’t have to be actually naked to be Spiritually nude.

I may not now fit the definition of an actual, literal nudist anymore. But I can think like a nudist, tell nudist stories, and draw naked people (in a non-pornographic way). And like a real nudist, I no longer worry about what other people think. The naked truth is still the truth. And maybe even more-so than when people wear their clothes as if it were a disguise.

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Filed under autobiography, humor, irony, nudes, Paffooney

Time and Destiny

He sat down to write something for the day. He rolled a fresh sheet of typing paper into the typewriter. Then he sat back to look at it. It was a totally horrifying stretch of cold, blank nothingness. There was nothing there. It left him feeling completely and hopelessly alone.

How do you connect with that person who is going to pick up and read the final copy of this thing once it is finished? His brain hurt thinking about it.

He knew that he needed to get started. And he wanted to start with something colorful.

So, he typed a word; RED.

“Well, that’s a start, at least…” he said, talking foolishly to the inanimate typewriter. “But what do I really mean by saying RED?”

Well, of course, red means emotional things, anger, love, shed blood, tomato sauce on Chicago-style pizza…

…But how do you make an actual idea out of that? It needs to be stretched some and pulled a lot. Bent out of shape, maybe even smashed by a hammer.

The typewriter became concerned and alarmed at the mention of the hammer.

But the writer was only thinking about the hammer. And the typewriter didn’t read minds. Heck, it wasn’t even electric yet. It was a typewriter that the writer’s grandmother bought in the 1940s. And writer loved it because it reminded him of her. And it reminded him of her letting him type his very first story on it when he was six years old. He wrote a story about a skeleton chasing a dog. And when the skeleton caught up to the dog, the dog ate him. Because he was bones. It was a short story. Very short. Less than a page. Because grandma only had one page of typing paper left on her desk.

And the story wasn’t red. So, why was he even thinking about it now?

Well, it was read. By his grandmother. And she laughed.

And he hadn’t thought about it until right now. But it was the moment he knew he wanted to be a writer some day.

And, so… Right now… This very moment… He realized… The real story is ready to begin,

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Filed under humor, irony, Paffooney, surrealism, writing, writing humor