Category Archives: metaphor

66 Life is Awesome… but Painful 99

A Dance Troop from TIk Tok

Life is a dance that you keep dancing while you live.

The steps are difficult and hold your attention ransom.

So, often, you do not see the beauty of its pattern and flow,

Until you are so old and slow that you can barely take the next timely step.

Life is an exercise of making meaning and value of all that you are given.

The factory in which you make that life is only rarely comfortable.

Loud and grouchy managers provide the materials unfairly and with austerity,

And they constantly interfere with your work and make your hammers dull.

Yet, at the end of the job, you will marvel at what you have made.

Life is an operatic performance, full of color, flashy swirls of movement, and arias hard to sing.

And you will strut and fret your hour upon the stage, terrified you’ll miss the high note,

And fear of your inevitable solo will freeze the butterflies in your guts into sharp and painful fears.

And some fat lady in a Viking helmet and chainmail flits about trying to sing the notes that bring the opera to its end.

And when you belt out the song at center stage that is meant to bring the house down, and the audience applauds,

You will fall back exhausted, confident that it was your best possible performance, and worth your life to perform it.

Life is awesome… but painful.

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Filed under metaphor, poem, poetry

Wielding the Big Pencil

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The guy holding the big pencil used to be me.   I know you are thinking, “But, Mickey, you are not a rabbit!”  Well, that’s true, but it is also true that the whole thing is a metaphor, and metaphorically I was always Reluctant Rabbit, pedagogue… teacher… the holder of the big pencil.  It is a writing teacher thing.  The best way to teach kids to write is to have them write.  And the best way to show them what you mean when you tell them to write is to write yourself.  You learn to read better by reading a lot.  You learn to write better by writing a lot, reading what you wrote, and reading what other people wrote, especially if those other people were holding the big pencil in front of the class.

blue-and-mike-in-color

I was recently reminded by people who know me that once I held the big pencil in the front of the class.  They both asked me, “Really?  You were a teacher?”

I suppose it is hard to believe when once you’ve gotten to know me, at least a little bit.  I don’t strike people as the sour-faced, anal-retentive English-teacher type.  I smile and laugh too much for that.  They can’t believe that someone like me could ever teach.

But over the years, I got rather good at holding the big pencil.  I learned, first of all, that anyone can be a good teacher.  You only have to be competent in the subject area you are trying to teach, and open to learning something new about teaching every single day for the rest of your life.

skoolgurlz

Here’s something you have to learn about teaching to be any good at it; Discipline is not about making kids behave.  You can shout, stamp your feet, and hit them with a ruler and you will never get them to do what you want to them do.  It has to be about limiting the choices they have for what they will do.  Yes, one of those choices is to be removed from the classroom to go have fun sitting in the uncomfortable chair next to the assistant principal in charge of discipline’s desk, but the good teacher knows you should emphasize that they can either sit like a lump and imitate a rock, or they can participate in the activities presented.  And in my classroom, activities led to jokes and laughing and trying new stuff… some of it hard, but most of it easy.  Kids don’t end up having a hard time making the right choice.

Cool School Blue

Here’s something else you absolutely have to learn to be any good at it;  You have to like kids.  Not just the well-behaved teacher-pleasers, but also the class clown who’s too smart to sit still for stuff he already knows, the shrinking violet who is a wonderfully complex well of deep thoughts who is only a little bit too scared to actually speak in class and share her thoughts, and the dark snarky demon who is quietly plotting the next outburst that will make your life a living hell so he or she can spend time with their old and dear friend, the chair in the assistant principal’s office.  If you don’t like them, you can’t teach them, and driving dynamite trucks in war zones is an easier job.  It pays better too.

I often try to picture Donald Trump teaching English to seventh graders.  What a slapstick comedy that would be.  The man doesn’t know anything.  He is always angry.  And he hates everybody except his daughter Ivanka.  My fourth period class wouldn’t merely eat him alive, they would skeletonize him faster than a school of piranhas could ever hope to match.  And it might be entertaining to watch (assuming it was metaphorical, not literal).

And I sincerely wish I could hold the big pencil in front of class again.  It was the act that defined who I was and what purpose I had in life.  But it isn’t gone since I was forced by ill health to retire.  I held the big pencil for over two thousand students in the course of thirty-one years.  And I will always hold the big pencil in their memories of it.  It is a sort of immortality for teachers.

goopafootootoo

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, humor, metaphor, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, teaching, writing teacher

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

It is, of course, one of the most powerful, masterful, and best-known pieces of music ever written.

Mozart completed the “little serenade” in Vienna in 1787, but it wasn’t published until 1827, long after Mozart’s untimely death.

The Serenade is incorrectly translated into English as “A Little Night Music”. But this is and always has been the way I prefer to think of it. A creation of Mozart written shortly before he hopped aboard the ferryman’s boat and rode off into the eternal night. It is the artifact that proves the art of the master who even has the word “art” as a part of his name. A little music to play on after the master is gone to prove his universal connection to the great silent symphony that is everything in the universe singing silently together.

It is basically what I myself am laboring now to do. I have been dancing along the edge of the abyss of poverty, suffering, and death since I left my teaching job in 2014. I will soon be taking my own trip into night aboard the ferryman’s dreaded boat. And I feel the need to put my own art out there in novel and cartoon form before that happens.

I am not saying that I am a master on the level of a Mozart. My name is not Mickart. But I do have a “key’ in the name Mickey. And it will hopefully unlock something worthwhile for my family and all those I loved and leave behind me. And hopefully, it will provide a little night music to help soothe the next in line behind me at the ferryman’s dock.

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Filed under artwork, cartoons, classical music, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, Hidden Kingdom, magic, metaphor, music, Paffooney

Drawings that use Metaphors

Ah, Reluctant Rabbit using the big pencil in the front of the classroom. What could that be a metaphor for? How about teaching kids by showing them how? You teach writing by writing in front of the class, talking out loud about your process, editing yourself, and polishing your writing in front of those who need to learn those skills.

So, here is the metaphor in action. Me teaching 7th graders.

Is an avatar not a metaphor for me?

Mr. Dickens, Mr. Shakespeare, Mr. Disney, and Mr. Poe… do I really need to explain this metaphor?
If the horns are the metaphors, what does that say about my boys?
What’s the meaning of the metaphors here?
Foolish bravery, positive thinking, and terrible circumstances (That’s not a parachute in his backpack, it’s the picnic lunch he would share with Gretchen after the mission.)

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Filed under artwork, humor, metaphor, Paffooney

I Sweetpotato What I Sweetpotato

If you are as goofy and cartoon-obsessed as me, you may remember that Popeye the sailor was known for the catchphrase, “I yam what I yam”. And if you do remember that, it will not surprise you that, when told a yam is another name for sweet potato, Popeye was furious. “It cannot be!” he argued. “I would not say I sweet potato what I sweet potato! That’s ridicumess!”

Well he has a point.

But I would like to talk today about the things that I sweet potato, and why I sweet potato those things.

First of all, I yam a humorist.

I yam this thing not because I am funny. You may think I yam funny because I say really goofy things for no apparent reason, and then keep on talking long enough to convince you that I did have a point to make, but my brain leans so far to the left that I am hardly right about anything.

And I make bad puns a lot.

You see, I have to use humor constantly to deal with all the hard things in life, because being too serious in the face of the world’s basic uncaring cruelty only leads to depression and taking a beating from life. In fact, I can think of any number of situations in my past where I avoided a beating only because I made a joke that made the bully laugh.

So, being a humorist is a survival tactic. Humor keeps you alive.

You see someone like me has to face all the pain and heartache and cruelty the world has to offer by using humor. The real reason is that, when faced with a bad situation, if the humor gland can’t empty itself of all the jokes it produces, it will begin to swell. The humor gland is located either in the brain or maybe in the behind (I am not medically qualified to tell you which it really is), and it can only swell to a certain point, and then it will explode. This is very bad thing for you, if you survive it, and certainly unpleasant for anybody nearby.

But the joke, properly launched at the target, will make somebody laugh, even if it is only the humorist himself. And laughter is the best medicine. Unless it kills you. You have to be careful not to die laughing. The angels will be offended, and the demons will all laugh too.

But I yam not only a humorist. I yam also a teacher.

I began to realize that I might be a teacher when, in graduate school to get a remedial master’s degree to help with the fact that plain English majors all starve to death, I discovered I had a talent for explaining things in simple terms. And then, immediately afterwards, I discovered I had an even greater talent for being ignored while the people I was explaining to made the mistakes they wouldn’t have made if only they had listened to me, before they failed spectacularly, and then realized how the solution I had explained would’ve made them succeed instead. There is apparently no better way to learn an important lesson.

Teaching is, of course, a pretty cool job. You tend to have the summers off. And you get paid for summer because they split the amount of money you earn for the year (which considering what a babysitter makes on average per child and per hour is far too little for the hours you put in) into twelve monthly pittances.

Of course you are expected to have a university degree (although no teacher college in the world can teach you what you really need to know in order to face that many little monsters… err, darlings… every day) and preferably some grad school, and a certification to teach in your chosen subject, and an additional certification if you are going to teach more than one subject (and ESL and Speech and Journalism, all of which I was expected to teach, are separate certifications) and you have to take hours of additional training every single year, and you have to get re-certified every five years, and… Well, you have to be basically smarter and much better-educated than Bill Gates… But the school janitor will probably be making more money per month than you do.

Anyway, it’s a job you just gotta love. I yam a teacher.

And really, there are a whole lotta yams in my basket yet that I could tell you about. I yam a Red Skelton fan. I yam sometimes a nudist (when I don’t have to put on clothes to keep myself from scratching all my psoriasis-plagued skin off). I yam also an artist (of the type known as a cartoonist). I yam pig-headed sometimes, and I yam Grumpy sometimes (so I go from being Porky to one of the Seven Dwarfs.) I yam a lotta things. And my sweet-potato basket is large.

But I can’t talk about all of my yams today. Too many yams are bad for my diabetes.

But here’s one last yam. I yam a storyteller. And I have a free Kindle e-book promotion this weekend. The book is the first in my series of AeroQuest books. It is a science fiction story with a humorous bent. And I mean, it is seriously bent in some places.

So, click on the link and get yourself a copy. It’s funny. And I will save the other sweet potatoes for another day.

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Filed under humor, metaphor, novel writing, Paffooney, self portrait, writing teacher

Thinkology – How to Think for Yourself

It is important for your mental health and well-being in the present age to question everything. As I laid out for you in the previous Thinkology post, the world is full of mental mousetraps, and evil thinkers are anxious to do all the critical thinking for you. If they can influence what you think is true, they can control you.

To start with, you have to look at yourself naked in the mirror. Now, I don’t mean this literally. The illustration is intended to be a metaphor for self-examination that goes deeper than how you look in your everyday dress…or tutu… or business suit… or even birthday suit if you like and are good-looking like the boy in the metaphor (after all, I have come to believe I am a nudist now, and am supposed to like the idea of birthday suits.)

What you are looking for is not how unsexy your massively fat-inflated abs are, but those things you believe that may not be completely valid (and mentally fattening.) Things that are true (not mere opinions or even supported opinions, but provably true facts) are backed up by measured, calibrated, and repeatable observations and experimental evidence. This means more than one other qualified observer has seen the same proofs as you have and agrees that it is factual. Yes, that’s the scientific method. And as a scientific way of evaluating truth, it is continually questioned and re-examined.

Any news source that you are thinking about accepting opinions from needs to be someone you can trust because they do actually vet their facts and sources. (Not the FOX news sort of vetting where it’s true because Tucker Carlson says so, but vetted through multiple reliable sources.) It helps too if your source is intelligent. Do not take the word of Louie Gohmert of Texas, Greg Gutfield of FOX News, or Mark Levin of talk radio for anything. These fools are clearly brain-damaged idiots or evil people spouting nonsense for evil reasons… or both. But also don’t take the word of Rachel Maddow, Bill Nye the Science Guy, or Niel DeGrasse Tyson without corroboration. While they are usually more intelligent, they are imperfect humans too and sometimes get things wrong. No one is perfect 100% of the time over 100% of the issues they are talking about.

Again, question everything.

Infinite monkeys with infinite typewriters could not have written all of Shakespeare’s plays.

The actor and theater owner, William Shakespeare, did not write the plays of William Shakespeare. The man could not even spell his own name successfully on public documents, left no handwritten manuscripts behind him, had no personal library, and never left England for any of the places in Italy he referenced so beautifully in his plays. Yet, there are many coherent arguments in favor of the glover’s son from Stratford written by dedicated true believers. And one cannot ultimately declare someone else the author of the plays. So, I have to admit that my belief that William Shakespeare is actually a pen name is only a supported opinion, not a fact. I choose to believe the actual writer was probably Edward DeVere, the Earl of Oxford, aided by Ben Jonson, Francis Bacon, and other Elizabethans determined to establish English Literature’s place in the world. What I choose to believe is representative of my ability to think for myself… and my ability to weather ridicule from friends, relatives, and random Shakespeare experts who leave comments poo-pooing my blog and my intelligence. I know how to think and evaluate evidence.

So, think for yourself. Question everything. Weigh the evidence with care. And don’t take my word for it. I am probably crazy. Try it for yourself and see if it works.

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Filed under angry rant, commentary, conspiracy theory, humor, insight, irony, metaphor, Paffooney, philosophy

Crab Apple Pie

image from https://noshingwiththenolands.com/crabapple-strawberry-tart/

I was spending time with a certain cynical youth who likes to insult me and argue about every one of my faults as a human being, telling me that such treatment is meant to improve me to meet a standard that only he thinks I need to live up to when it occurred to me; Crab Apple has two meanings.

Image borrowed from; http://ediblecapitaldistrict.ediblecommunities.com/recipes/crab-apple-syrup

Crab apples (which ominously come up on Wikipedia as genus Malus) are generally mistrusted as eating apples. Alternatively known as “wild apples”, they are often bitter to the taste. Hence, the association with the chronic complainer, the dyspeptic dude, and the hen-pecky female. Crab apples are the fruits of unpleasant people-trees.

So, how does one deal with crab apples? I always tend to fall back on the homily, “When you are given any kind of fruit, make it into pie.” And yes, the links under the pictures will actually yield recipes. I know it is a metaphorical over-simplification. But, if I do not enjoy being critiqued for the hair in my ears and the werewolf hair sprouting under my eyes, or the way I say, “I’m sorry!” too much, I am going to use those fruits to make a pie of surreal comedy in a WordPress post.

I saw a guy on the highway speeding around me at well-over the speed limit, turning around to give me a look at his middle finger, probably trying to predict how many IQ points he will have left when he crashes into whatever is ahead of him that he can’t see because he’s grinning and glaring at me behind him. There’s an apple for this pie.

The impatient clerk in the tax office gives me the “Are you really that stupid” glare and attendant sigh as she suggests that I step to the side and correct the mistakes in my paperwork so she can mistreat the next person in the incredibly long line that she wants me to return to the back of. There’s another apple.

Image borrowed from this website; https://www.abelandcole.co.uk/recipes/rosy-crab-apple-pie


In today’s world, it really doesn’t take long to have enough apples for your pie. In fact, I am looking at a huge pie now with loads and loads of crab apples in it.

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Filed under commentary, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, metaphor

Human Beans

People are not really vegetables… even though I have seen IQ scores as a teacher that might say otherwise. But I often use the pun of calling them Human Beans.

Your basic human bean.

Western style beans

Of course, being a Texan means having a healthy appreciation for beans as a staple food. Cowboys used to live off of beans and beef jerky, and if Louis L’Amour is to be believed, they even made tea from mesquite beans. That makes your average cowboy made up of over 50 per cent beans. Of course the rest of him is mostly gas caused by the beans in his diet, whether it comes out as a fart or as a Texas tall tale… And yes, I admit it, I get a lot of my writing ideas from eating beans.

A Boston baked bean

We must also be aware that Texas has no corner on the beans market. We all know Boston baked beans by reputation. They, like the ever-hapless Cubs, had a habit of never winning the World Series. And now, in the last two decades, it has actually been difficult for the other teams to keep them from winning it all. But we shouldn’t mix up beans with baseball metaphors. Baseball is like life. Full of long and boring parts punctuated by intense moments of hitting, scoring, committing errors, and player versus player individual drama. And concession stand food! Beans, however, can taste good in chili draped over the ballpark hot dogs which cost more than a restaurant meal at most reasonable restaurants. And I promise you, you will never hit a home run over the fence by hitting it with a bean.

A Mexican style re-fried bean

And I wish to point out that this last human bean is not a racist cartoon. Beans are not part of the human race. They only have legs in cartoons and would come in last even when racing a snail. And all beans are created equal in the sight of God. Kidney beans, butter beans, navy beans, string beans… all beans are just beans, no matter what the color of their skin is, and no matter how they add flavor to a casserole. All beans are just in it to live life the best they can, and if that’s not enough… they can be planted as seeds to raise the next generation of human beans.

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Filed under cartoons, foolishness, humor, metaphor, Paffooney

Down the Rabbithole

Sometimes life goes well.

And sometimes it goes really rotten.

And it seems that it goes badly three or maybe four times as often as it goes well.

This has been a bad week for me.

I got a booster shot two days ago to protect against further Covid problems. But I am still ill today just from the injection.

And yet I am still supposed to be funny on Fridays.

So, today, I am going to explain why rabbits’ feet are not going to help.

They are not lucky for me.

I have been a rabbit for forty years, since I was 25 and starting a career as a teacher.

Rabbits are always alert, always ready to face whatever predators may come our way, foxes, weasels, bears, tigers, bankers, health-insurance salesmen, lawyers, and politicians.

Rabbits have a field of vision that stretches for well more than the human 180 degrees of view.

They have to put together sensory input quickly, thump loudly with a hind leg, and bolt down the rabbit hole.

Critics would say that a rabbit doesn’t act assertively enough, standing up for himself in the face of what is unjust, life-threatening, and wrong. But it is not easy to be a rabbit in a dangerous world where bad luck is more common than good.

And think about it carefully, in a harsh and unjust world-environment. a rabbit’s foot is never lucky to the rabbit it came from.

So, feeling rotten, surrounded by crumbling pipes and leaky plumbing in this old house, and getting nothing but spam calls on the phone from scammers, this fat old rabbit, going blind and laid up with arthritis pain, is still happy to count all four rabbit’s feet still attached.

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Filed under autobiography, feeling sorry for myself, humor, illness, metaphor, Paffooney, rabbit people

A Concert Performed For Nobody

creativity
Back in my college days in the late 70’s I came back to the dorm one night late due to research until the library closed. In the entry hall to the dorms there was a piano. I had never seen anybody playing it. But as I got there, there was a student playing it. It was my nerd friend Kip, an engineering major. It was quiet, unassuming Kip. Kip who was so quiet, in fact, that I can’t even remember his last name, or what his voice sounded like. But he was playing the piano in an empty room with nobody listening. He was playing Scott Joplin’s composition “The Entertainer”. He had his back to me, totally lost in the music. He didn’t know I was there. And I… I was transfixed. I realized he was just practicing. But he knew the music right out his head, no sheet music on the piano in front of him. And he played like the ultimate virtuoso. And the music was so good it made my soul tingle.

It occurs to me that that single moment is, for me, a metaphor for my life. It is a concert played for nobody. I am competing only with myself. I am trying to please only myself. And if anybody is listening… I mean really listening… not just looking at the pictures and moving on, I don’t know it. And that is probably how it should be. This poor player is strutting and fretting his hour upon the stage. And when the concert ends… when the concert ends…? Applause is not likely. And applause is not needed. The music exists for its own sake. And the echoes of it are the fuel that powers the universe.

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Filed under autobiography, commentary, humor, insight, inspiration, metaphor, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life