Category Archives: magic

When the Captain Came Calling… Canto 1

Canto One – A Secret Meeting Awaits

Valerie was on her skateboard on Main Street.  She was thrashing.  It didn’t matter how dangerous Daddy said it could be.  She was a thrasher, and she knew how to ride.  If he thought he could forbid her from doing it, well, that was just so boofoo!  No.  She couldn’t use that word.  Not after Danny Murphy told her what it actually meant.  Yeesh!  Okay, un-cool, then.

She was ten.  She was wearing her latex biker shorts.  You know, the ones Mom forbid her to wear because they were skin tight.  But why did it matter so much?  It was not like she actually had a butt to show off.  She could ride her skateboard naked and no one would really notice.  She did an ollie off the edge of the sidewalk and onto the hot pavement.  Summer was ending, but the last day of the Labor Day weekend was still hot.  Iowa hot.   Eighty degrees in the sun with warm, humid air that boiled you right out of your biker shorts sort of hot.  But Valerie wasn’t ready to find out if it was true that no one would notice.  She needed to keep them on.  They were black with a purple slash of color on the sides.  Her favorite thing to wear.

Across the asphalt street her wheels and trucks buzzed as she rode to the south side of Main Street.  It was a small Iowa farm town.  Only maybe four cars were parked there at any one time, and no one was on the street but her.  Still, she wished she could burn her way across right in front of someone’s moving pickup truck and scare them into dropping a bale of hay or two.  No one marked her passing by in one of the most boring places in the whole Mr. Boofoo Universe.  No.   The Mr. Un-Cool Universe.   She had to remember not to say that other thing anymore.  Especially in front of Mom, even if Mom didn’t have a clue what it really meant.

She was headed for the Ghost House on the south eastern edge of town.  The Ghost House was the only remaining haunted house in Norwall, Iowa, and it had collapsed in on itself.  It was more a pile of broken boards and garbage than a house, but it was the place where she was headed because, unknown to most of the adults in town, the Ghost House still had a functioning cellar, shored up with railroad ties by her cousin Brent Clarke and the rest of the original Norwall Pirates.  The Pirates had been a secret club in the 1970’s, a secret that nearly everyone knew at least one thing about.  They had been a liars’ club of young boys who supposedly caught a werewolf once and chased an undead Chinese wizard around town.  Liars’ club was more than just a local nickname for it.  It was more of a literal definition.  But she had been called to attend a secret Pirate meeting.  A meeting that shouldn’t exist because there had been no Norwall Pirates since they had graduated high school in 1978.

Mom would have a fit if she knew Valerie was headed to the Ghost House.  It was the kind of run-down rattle-trap that all mothers worried about.  No decent mother worthy of her official Mom-card would stand for a child of theirs going to such a place, especially not Val’s Mom, the Queen of Worrywarts.

She thrashed her way down Whitten Avenue and then around the corner, zigzagging for two blocks, and then passing Ugly Bill’s Junkyard to the huge pile of broken crap that had been described to her as being the actual place.

She came to a stop, kicked up her board and grabbed it, and looked around, not quite as certain now as she pondered a wilderness of junk, thistles, and burdock leaves.  Ugly Bill Pixeley had tons of used car parts and wrecked truck parts from which he salvaged the pieces that he, his brother, and his two idiot sons put together as trucks and other vehicles which he then sold at a huge profit.  Pixeley was a talented mechanic and a very crafty self-taught engineer.

“You here for the Pirate meeting?” asked Danny Murphy, pulling up on his bicycle.

“Yeah,” she answered, popping her Bazooka Joe bubble gum.  “Mary Philips says it ain’t just gonna be for boys anymore.”

“Yeah.  I heard that too.  And I’m glad you’re gonna be a Pirate,” Danny said with a sly grin.  He was a sophisticated man of twelve… well, not really… but he was a boy older than Valerie by an entire school year, though only about five months in age.  Older boys being in the club was one of the main attractions for her.  “It will be cool to have the most beautiful little girl ever born in Norwall in our club.”

Valerie blushed and dropped her eyes a little bit at that.  Her Uncle Dash had always said that about her since she could remember.  But it was one thing to hear it from family, and something else to hear it from somebody she rode the school bus with.  Some things get around by word of mouth a lot faster and farther than you ever wish they would.

“Do you know how to get inside?” Valerie asked.

“I can show you a secret entrance … for a kiss?”  Danny blushed intensely as he proposed the bargain, a truly dark red that can only be achieved by somebody as boney-skinny, white-skinned Irish, and shy of girls as Danny Murphy was.

“Boys who think like that all grow up to be rapists,” Val shot back at him.  “That’s what my Aunt Jennifer says, anyway.”

Danny turned an even darker shade of red-violet.  Valerie was suddenly feeling guilty, as if she might possibly have caused his head to explode from embarrassment by her cutting remark about his personal urges.  She didn’t dislike him.  She just didn’t want to kiss him.

“Aw, I didn’t mean anything by that.  I’ll show you the Tunnel of Doom.”

Danny pointed to a large concrete drainage tile that had been rolled up against the side of the Ghost House’s foundation.  She could see that if you crawled through the tile, you could enter through a large crack in the brick foundation.  Spiders and potentially snakes to crawl through.  Ughh!  But Valerie was no Shrinking Violet.  She pushed Danny out of the way and went in.                                                                                

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Filed under characters, humor, magic, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, Pirates

Chances Are…

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Chances are… I could wear a foolish grin, like a Johnny Mathis Moon in the sky…

I could waltz… all alone in a dark room, never seizing on the chances to fly…

But there’s a time… meant to let the summer in…

And love songs… all make me wonder… Why?

Silly, I know.  But silly and surreal is how I go, how I deal with the time.  A song in my head leads to rhythm and metaphor and rhyme.  And it takes me from old winter and the waning of the moon… to the silly month of June… And my dancing shoes were never quite so spry.

Chances are… if you really read this, you will know I am depressed.

My life is all unfairly messed.

And I barely can get dressed…

To go tripping cross the floor, dancing awkwardly toward the door, ’cause I’m in need of so much more.

But in a poem I find it… the very reason that I rhymed it… like the crooning song that’s stuck in my old head…

I will catch it, and I’ll bind it, like a fool who hopes you’ll find it, and the treasure will be revealed before we’re dead…

Chances are… that you hear that silly tune, as it reels across the page in silent spread.  And the song will slowly stop, as I dance a final hop, and the answer is brightly shining in my head.

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Filed under Depression, feeling sorry for myself, finding love, healing, humor, magic, music, Paffooney, poetry

What We Can’t Keep Mickey From Doing

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Mickey is hopelessly addicted to writing.  He keeps writing and publishing these story-things we refer to as novels.  We are searching for some kind of five-step program to cure Mickey, but we have been forced to conclude the disease is probably incurable.

The book has now gone live on Amazon in its Kindle e-book form.  The paperback version is still pending.

Here’s a link to the book on Amazon.

In an attempt to understand Mickey’s addiction problem from a diagnostic perspective, we intend to present evidence here to arrive at a conclusion about what’s fundamentally wrong with Mickey.

Superchicken, the main character of the book, bears the same nickname that Mickey himself was called repeatedly and without mercy  when he was in junior high school and high school.  Mickey claims that Edward-Andrew Campbell is not him in fictional form, but we find that generally hard to believe, and we can point to considerable evidence that the character has many of Mickey’s own characteristics.  It is disturbing to note that on the cover picture, the derby-hatted character called Milt Morgan in the book, is a self-portrait of Mickey himself drawn from an old school photo.  Milt Morgan in the book is highly imaginative, obsessed with magic, and a creator of truly insane and somewhat wicked plans.  It is disturbingly reminiscent of Mickey himself.

And then there is the whole nudism connection.  The Cobble Sisters in the book are dedicated nudists and manage to talk the Superchicken into going to a nudist camp with their nudist family, though he didn’t know what they were signing him up for until he gets to the campground and sees all the naked people.

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It is not a coincidence that Mickey had a girlfriend whose sister lived in a nudist apartment complex, and he was himself taken by surprise when she took him to visit there.  Besides, Mickey has even confessed in his goofy blog to visiting a nudist camp himself in recent times.

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So, as you can plainly see, we now have new evidence that Mickey is in need of some kind of intervention to help him get over this sinister malady of the mind.  One thing we can do is suggest you find the book on Amazon and read it for yourself.  Maybe, just maybe, you will be the one who comes up with the solution to Mickey’s endless novel-writing nonsense.  This is a problem that may well turn out to be terminal if something is not done about it soon.

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Filed under foolishness, humor, magic, novel, NOVEL WRITING, nudes, Paffooney, publishing

The Little Shop Full of Treasures

Every good Dungeons & Dragons game needs a quaint little magic shop to provide the appropriate magical boom-boom solution that isn’t obviously needed, but will prove essential to the adventure later.

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For our game, where we had a choice of a number of screwy little magic shops that didn’t manage to blow themselves up, the main place of choice was Failin’s Arcanum Magickum Shoppe in Sharn.   (Why “shop” has to be spelled “shoppe”, I’m really not certain.  You have to spell things wrong to cast spells apparently.)

The shoppe is located in the Precarious District of Sharn, City of Towers.  Visitors have been known to be crushed by falling parapet stones from above that may or may not have been wedged loose by a hobgoblin street gang.  Failin himself is a rather morose individual with red hair and a connection to the Dragonmarked House Orien, the house whose magical dragonmarks allow the members of the house to do transportation magic.  Failin was himself a talented geomancer, able to create items with bound earth elementals used for power and propulsion.  He also collects items of great value from adventurers and commands impossibly high prices for them.

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So, if you want to buy a Wand of Blinding Colors, a Bag of Holding, a Flaming Elf Skull of Timely Warnings, or a Deadly Drum of Druid Doom, he’s definitely your man and will only take twice the amount of everything you own in payment.  If you want something more powerful or more arcane, you better be ready to slay a dragon for it and bring back the entire hoard as payment.  Failin is rich in several different ways.

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Working for Failin is his one and only servant, Gobbie.  Gobbie is also a rare thing, a goblin you can trust.  He was raised by dragonmarked humans and treated slightly better than the average goblin (who tend to be killed on sight by heroes).

Gobbie is also trained as a shield bearer, and carries a shield that is immune to dragon fire and most magical fire and ice.  Failin rents Gobbie to adventurers for a high price, and Gobbie usually serves them just as faithfully as he serves his red-haired master.

And Failin’s shoppe is a place where you can find any number of magic users, wizards, warlocks, sorcerers, illusionists, thaumaturges, and other magicians.  If you don’t mind risking a meeting with horrifying necromancers, you can find and talk to some of the most powerful people in all Eberron.

 

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Filed under Dungeons and Dragons, heroes, humor, magic, Paffooney

Only One Star?

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There are certain books that simply have to exist in order for me to be me.  I couldn’t be the person I am without The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Der Zauberberg (The Magic Mountain) by Thomas Mann, and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.  These are all books that have an allegorical element, a trans-formative effect, that shapes how you think and how you live after reading them. Some of these books have not been made into a movie.  Some probably still can’t be.  Others have not been made into an effective movie.  But, then, Disney in 2018 makes a movie version of A Wrinkle in Time that makes me relive the primary experience of the book all over again.

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I was disappointed to see the critics being harsh about the movie.  I had high hopes before going to see it.  Yet, you couldn’t miss the one star rating on the box office rating system of the ticket and show time site I was using.  But my daughter and I went to see it yesterday anyway.  It was far above my highest expectations.

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You see, the novel itself is magical.  The essential characters of Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which have to be witch-like, super-real incarnations of inter-dimensional beings.  It is the view of them with open-minded childlike eyes that makes the complex relationships of this story to reality apparent to anyone who thinks clearly like a child.  It is the reason why this book is a young adult novel, written primarily for children, even though the concept of a tesseract is wholly mind-bending in a Stephen Hawking sort of way.  It is the wonder with which the director of this movie lensed the dimension-tessering time witches that makes this movie the best version.  Not like that failed attempt in 2003.  That was almost there, but not quite by half.

MV5BMjEyNjc0NDgzOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjYwMjcyMQ@@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_ Strangely enough, the things that the critics seem to hate about this version of the movie are precisely the things that I think make it miraculous.

Critics don’t like some of the special effects and the color schemes of some scenes.  Many things about the final battle with evil are seen by them as inexplicably bizarre.  They don’t like the over-use of extreme close-ups on the faces of characters.  And they think the performances of some of the child actors are too wooden and unreal to carry off the story.

I wholeheartedly disagree.

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This is a story that takes place in the heads of the people involved, including the viewer of the movie.  The extreme close-ups pull you into the personal feelings and struggles of the main characters.  Particularly Storm Reid as Meg.  The story is about her struggle as an adolescent to be at peace with her own flaws and self-image while at the same time being responsible for finding and saving her father, as he has completely lost his way on his quest to “shake hands with the universe”.  Meg undergoes a challenge to her self image as she is cruelly bullied by another girl in school.  She has to come to terms with loving her super-genius little brother Charles Wallace.  And she has to weather the changes that occur when she encounters a potential first love in Calvin.  It is a coming of age story that really smart kids can relate to directly from their own personal experience.

This one-star movie with only a 40% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes is a far better movie than the critics would have you believe.  It is doing quite well at the box office.  Kids seem to love it.  And in my wacky opinion, it is the best movie version of the book to date.  I love this movie.

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Filed under art criticism, commentary, magic, movie review, science fiction

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

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Some books come along telling a story that has to be taken seriously in ways that don’t make sense in any normal way.  The Alchemist is one of those books.

What is an alchemist, after all?

An alchemist uses the medieval forms of the art of chemistry to transmute things, one thing becoming another thing.

Coelho in this book is himself an alchemist of ideas.  He uses this book to transmute one idea into another until he digs deep enough into the pile of ideas to finally transmute words into wisdom.

There is a great deal of wisdom in this book, and I can actually share some of it here without spoiling the story.

Here are a few gemstones of wisdom from the Alchemist’s treasure chest;

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting…” (p.13)

“It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary; only wise men are able to understand them.” (p.17)

“All things are one.  And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”  (p.24)

“And when he had gone only a short distance, he realized that, while they were erecting the stall, one of them had spoken Arabic and the other Spanish.    And they had understood each other perfectly well.  There must be a language that doesn’t depend on words, the boy thought.” (p.45)

All of these quotes from the book, as you can see, come from the first third of the book.  There are many more treasures to be found in this book.  I should not share them with you here.  Just as the main character of the story learns, you have to do the work for yourself.  But this book is not only an enjoyable read, but a map for how you can execute your own journey towards your “Personal Legend”.  In fact, you may find that the book tells you not only how to go about making a dream come true, but, if you are already on that journey successfully, it tells you what things you are already doing right.

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Filed under book reports, book review, commentary, good books, magic, strange and wonderful ideas about life, wisdom, wizards

Who Are You Really, Old Man?

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A wizened old man in a wizard’s robe walked up to a twelve-year-old boy.

“Okay, ask your question, and make it good.”

“What?” said the boy.  “Who are you, old man?”

“Never mind who I am.  I can answer the ultimate question.  I have lived a long life.  I am very wise.”

“Being old makes you wise.”

“It logically follows, yes.  But surely you have a question for me.  I know the meaning of life.  I can teach you great magic, deep knowledge, and truth.  So what will you ask?”

“But the only wisdom that is real,” said the boy, “is knowing that people like you and I really know nothing in the face of the vast, complex universe.  I’m twelve.  I don’t know anything.  So I am also truly wise.”

“I can’t argue that.  It is circular reasoning.  A circle is a closed loop.  But the snake who eats his own tail in the circle of life is a short-lived fool.”

“I guess you are right.  That probably does make you wise to know that.”

“But you haven’t yet asked your question.  The good one.  What is it that you most need to know to make a success of your life?”

“But I have asked it.  You just haven’t answered.”

“You did?  But what did you ask?”

“Who are you really, old man?”

“Ah, that one again.  Well, at heart, I am the same boy that I was when I was twelve.  I have learned my whole life long, so I am considered a teacher.  I have spent every coin I have ever earned while experiencing my life, so I am a poor man.  But no man on earth can ever be richer than me.  I have peace of mind.  And that is everything of value that there is.  If I am to say who I really am, then I must admit, I am you.”

“I thought so.  In the end, that’s who we all are.”

 

 

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Filed under humor, irony, magic, Paffooney, satire, self portrait, wisdom, wizards