Category Archives: metaphor

Triple Down Bummers Now Come in Grape Flavor

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You heard me right.  Grape flavor.  Specifically sour grape flavor.

I put my family on an airplane today to go be with my oldest son while he has surgery.

I get to stay home with the family dog because my back is hurting so fiercely from weather and arthritis that I can’t possibly spend hours on a plane.

So, sour grapes.

You know the Aesop’s Fable about the fox and the grapes?

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The fox, seeing the luscious grapes, tries to leap and get the grapes.  He is hungry for the grapes.  Ravenous for the grapes.  But no matter how hard he tries, he cannot reach the grapes with his snapping jaws.

He buys a trampoline from Acme.  But it sproings him over the tree and into the river on the other side… where there are alligators.  (Yeah, I exaggerate here… but in my life there always seem to be alligators.)  He still can’t get the grapes.

So then he goes to Home Depot and buys a chainsaw to cut down the tree.  But when he tries to rev up the chainsaw he realizes… he’s a fox.  He doesn’t have hands.  He has paws.  He can’t work the chainsaw.  And on top of that, his credit card is denied because he’s a fox and his job only pays in dead mice and rabbits, and chainsaws cost money, not mice.  So Home Depot sent a Sheriff’s Deputy to arrest him for stealing the chainsaw.  And it turns out that in spite of consumer complaints, Home Depot has signed a huge chainsaw deal with Acme, so the chainsaw explodes because he tried to start it with fox paws.  And as he is flying through the air from the explosion towards the river with alligators… he realizes… grapes don’t grow on trees.  There has to be something wrong with those grapes.  They must be sour.

Now, this is exactly the way Aesop told the story.  Believe me.  It really, really sucks to be a fox and not be able to get what you want in life.

This surgery is a big thing.  But it is not life threatening.  My son will be fine.  My family will be able to go places and do stuff while they visit and entertain him.  It is like an extra family vacation.  His grandmother (my mother) and his aunt (my sister) have both had the same surgery for the same reason.  They both came through it and came out cured.  But the problem is most likely genetic.  So, not only do I not get to go and be with my family on this trip, the bummer reason for the trip is genetically probably my fault.     Yep, there are alligators in that danged old river.

I get these benefits only from the sour grapes; I get a lonely week to recover from alligator bites for myself, and I definitely have something to write about for today.

 

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Filed under autobiography, family, feeling sorry for myself, humor, medical issues, metaphor, Paffooney, self pity, vacations

The Lyrical Imperative

Creativity

I am always amazed by the fact that things which are inherently silent in nature make music in your mind.  Writing is like that for me.  Drawing is like that.  And so is photography.  That is an actual musical score from Chopin in the background.  My son recognized it from a book of piano pieces I bought for him because he reads music and can turn those squiggle-bugs on the fence into the right plinkety-plunks on a keyboard.  But there is more music in that picture besides.  The nude young girl at the keyboard softly rendered in velvety colored pencil tones is also musical in nature, for more than just the fact of fingers on a silent colored pencil keyboard.  The lyrical loops of black and yellow in the wings of the tiger swallowtail butterfly also make music in my head, sprightly piano music like Chopin’s, or possibly Vivaldi’s violins.

Did you listen to the music?  I don’t mean Vivaldi’s, although if you haven’t heard it, you certainly should.  I mean the music in the words.  The music has to be there for me for the writing to be good.  That’s why I consider Ray Bradbury and Walt Whitman to be masters and Stephenie Meyer and E. L. James to be unreadable hacks.  The beat and the flow of the words need to be patterned and patient and wily.   Do you not hear it in that last sentence? The alliteration of the first two adjectives set off by the counterpoint of the stressed-unstressed beats of the third?  How can I explain this?

Iambic pentameter is the true genius of Shakespeare’s plays.  What the heck is iambic pentameter, you ask?  Well, I realize you have probably never needed to teach poetry to seventh graders, a truly impossible but infinitely rewarding task.  So let me tell you.  Units of stress called iambs consist of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.  So naturally, if iambs are put into pentameter, then there must be five of them in a line of iambic pentameter poetry.  It is a simple, rhythmic way to say something profound and interesting.  The classic example is the first line of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18;

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Translating that into X’s and O’s where X=stressed and O=unstressed;

O X O X O X O X O X

It’s simple, five oxes, all in a line.  Except that last one about oxes is actually O X O X X O O O O X, a less simple pattern, yet still organized on the beat.  Two iambs, a dactyl and an anapest.  Okay, now I am talking like a poetry geek, and I have to stop it before I hurt someone.

The whole point is, words should be musical, even when they are not the words to a song.  And now I must close on the verge of starting a ten-thousand word thesis.  I shall shut up now.  Here endeth the lesson.

 

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Filed under colored pencil, education, foolishness, goofy thoughts, humor, metaphor, music, Paffooney, poetry, strange and wonderful ideas about life

The Be-Bop Beat of Mickey’s Brain

Truthfully, when I look back at the string of posts in the picket fence of this daily blog, I fail to see the overall map of it in any semblance of pattern or order.  Honestly, I did not set out to be purposefully wacky.

I did, however, set out to be purposefully surreal.  I mean it, I consciously put bizarrely dissimilar things together in an attempt to find parallels and connections  in unlike things because, not only is it funny and surprising, but is a comic act that serves to keep the mind nimble and never numb.  I do think quite a lot.  And I try to see connections between things where others wouldn’t.  For instance, the Coppertone girl with her bare butt and Bullwinkle with his unicycle are both being threatened in a way that is both comic, and taking advantage of their inherent image of innocence.  Neither will lose anything by it.  The girl stands to brown her pale white behind in the sun, while Bullwinkle will probably land on his head and it will make a decent cushion to preserve him because of it’s empty and rubbery qualities.

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Pie makes everything better.  MMMM!  Pie!

I must also admit to a bit of the old telling of stretchers, the misrepresentation of the truth, the loquacious layer-onner of lies.  Not Trumpian lies that land on you like elephants dropping like bombs out of B-52’s.  Little fictions that entertain and elucidate.  It is the most likely reason I keep saying connecting words and phrases like “truthfully” and “honestly” and “I mean it”.  Those are words that liars love.

Yes fiction writers like me tell little white lies.

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I am now past the 40,000 word mark in my latest novel manuscript Recipes for Gingerbread Children.  It is a novel based on real people I have known and loved and listened to.  It is about an old German woman, a survivor of WWII concentration camps, who loves to tell stories to children and bake gingerbread cookies, especially gingerbread men.  It features a pair of teenage nudist girls who believe in going completely naked whenever you are indoors, even if you are in someone else’s house.  It features Nazis, both in flashback and ghostly forms.  It also features fairies from the Hidden Kingdom of Tellosia, a fairy kingdom filled with little three-inch tall magical people living under our very noses.  And it has a werewolf in it, though admittedly a very young one.  It is a comedy with its requisite sad parts, and it is definitely an example of surrealism.  It is also full of lies… err, I mean fiction.

But the real purpose of this supposedly be-bop brain fart in blog-post form is not so much to explain my blog (because how do you explain a blog that goes from Flashbacks and Foobah to telling about Madman Trump to Another novel part… #37 to Centaurs to a book and movie review, to this eccentric and eclectic thing, which probably exists more to make alliteration jokes in the most musical beat I can bang out?) but to prove that I do often think about thinking and how things fit together and what it all means… and how to write a run-on sentence that adds to the effect rather than simply annoys.  And, yeah, I’m doing that.  And it feels like a good thing to do.

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Filed under blog posting, commentary, foolishness, humor, imagination, metaphor, Paffooney, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life, surrealism

Doodlefox

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While watching Netflix yesterday afternoon, a retirement activity that becomes the majority of my social life when the diabetes demons are eating me, I started doodling a fox.  It was a pencil doodle at first.  And I was not drawing from life.  I was drawing the fox in my head.  I suspect it was the fox from Antoine de Saint Exupery’s masterwork, The Little Prince.

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Yes, that fox.  The wise one that knows about taming little princes, and loving them, and being reminded of them in the color of wheat fields.  I began to need that fox as my doodle pen uncovered him on the blank page.  There he was.  Surprised to see me.  Either he was leaping towards me in the picture, or falling down on me from the sky above.  I don’t know which.  But I realized I had to tame him by drawing him and making him as real as ever an imaginary fox could ever be.  You will notice he does not look like a real fox.  I did not draw him from a photograph, but from the cartoon eye in my mind where all Paffoonies come from.  And this was to be a profound Paffooney… a buffoony cartoony looney Paffooney.  It simply had to be, because that is precisely what I always doodle-do.

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And so he was a fox.  He was my doodlefox.  I had tamed him.  And then I had to give him color.  And, of course, the color had to be orange-red.

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And so, there is my fox.  Like the Little Prince’s fox he could tell me, “What is essential is invisible to the eye.  It is only with the heart that we can see rightly.”  And I put him in a post with lyrical and somewhat goofy words to give you a sense of what he means to me, in the same way one might explain what the thrill of the heart feels like when a butterfly’s wing brushes against the back of your hand.  Yes, to share the unknowable knowledge and the unfeelable feeling of a doodlefox.  A demonstration of precisely what a Paffooney is.

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Filed under artwork, doodle, finding love, goofy thoughts, humor, metaphor, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Here Comes DeVos and Her Army of Orcs

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This is not a picture of Betsy DeVos.  This is an orc used as a metaphor, something children will no longer learn how to use in the dark new future of education.

Orcs, as depicted by Tolkien in his epic work The Lord of the Rings, are an unhappy lot, hating everyone, especially themselves and their masters whom they serve only out of fear.  Sound like modern-day Republicans?  Well, that’s probably not a fair comparison.  Shame on you for thinking like that.  Although, I must admit, looking at the Secretary of Education that Donald Trump has foisted upon us with the aid of senate Republicans, there is probably good reason you might think that.

Orcs, according to Tolkien, create no beautiful things.  They live out their lives violently destroying everything and everyone they touch.  They are greedy, corrupt, disloyal, and generally the very definition of ugliness.  And they have been the opponents of good public education for as long as I have been associated with schools and teaching.

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Here is an actual portrait of DeVos.  Sorry to spring something so foul and gut-wrenchingly horrible on you, but I thought you ought to have some idea how hideous this orcishness really is.

Orcs always tell me, “You can’t solve education’s problems by throwing money at them.”   What they really mean when they say this is either, “I can afford to put my kids in a good school that will only teach them what I want them to know, and I don’t think any of my money should be taken from me by taxation to pay for the education of poor people’s kids, especially not stupid poor people’s kids.”  Or, more likely, “I am too dumb not to believe rich white people when they say the world will be better for me and mine if I let rich white people keep all the money they make and make all the money they want.”   Either way, in Texas where the orcs have ruled since the Reagan Revolution first won over the rich white orcs that carry their orcish tribal banners all over oil-rich Texas, money has never been an issue for Texas public schools.  There simply is no money for public schools in Texas.  Over the past decade the State has always chosen to cut school funding before dipping into their vaunted billion-dollar rainy day fund whenever the Republican legislatures create a huge budget shortfall.  And whenever there has been a budget surplus, education funds are not restored.  Things like the fight against evil Planned Parenthood clinics take precedence.

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Members of the Texas State Legislature

Now Betsy DeVos, who became our current Secretary of Education despite resistance from all non-orc members of the US Senate, plus two orcs, will now give the orc hordes everything they want for education.  The federal Department of Education will be dismantled from the inside.  Privatized for-profit schools will become the new normal and receive funding disproportionate to the work they actually do.  All the cream belonging to rich folks will be skimmed off the top of the educational milk vat, and the rest will be left to fester and spoil in public school vats, becoming, at best, really really stinky cheese.

And so, let me end by saying, “Thank you, orcs, for doing such a wonderful job of protecting my children and grandchildren from the horrors of education and the ability to think for themselves.  You have protected them from ever learning enough to pull themselves out of the poverty and slavish lives you have put them in.”

 

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Filed under angry rant, education, feeling sorry for myself, humor, metaphor, monsters, politics, red States, satire

All the Naked People…

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I don’t know if you have seen the news about the unauthorized portrait statue of The Great Orange Face and the excitement it generated.  The statue is totally naked.  And, as you can see, people reacted by taking pictures of the statue, taking pictures of themselves with the statue, and taking for themselves a good, long look-see.  This person naked is somehow inherently more interesting than he is with all his clothes on, and his big red tie too.  And I am mystified by that.  I mean, we don’t have to actually see him naked to know what he looks like naked.  And it is not a pretty sight.

And you know full well that the orangutan we elected did not pose for this statue.  It could only come into being because the artist knows enough about anatomy to create it just from what he already knows about the man.  The man is naked enough in his daily life that we all know almost everything about his naked character, even though he never seems to be without his business suit.  He’s a naked racist.  He’s a naked misogynist.  He has a naked affection for his eldest daughter and thinly concealed dissatisfaction with his other kids.  We see far more of him than we really want to see.

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If you are, perhaps, wondering where I am going with this, what today’s theme is, then here it is.  All people are naked all the time.  (Well, maybe not Iron Man in his suit or soldiers in bullet-proof combat armor, but we are talking metaphorical here, not literal.)

The girl who posed for this portrait, whose name I will not reveal, doesn’t really quite look like this.  It is titled Her #2 because it was actually drawn in pen and ink while looking at the original pencil sketch.  And she was actually another man’s girlfriend and became another man’s wife.  She posed for me out of respect for my art skills and from the urging of others rather than anything I ever said or did.  As an artist you never really capture the nakedness of your subject.  You can really only capture what is in your own head, your response to the subject, and so, the nakedness becomes your own.  This picture shows the awkwardness I felt since I really haven’t drawn a nude model more than a handful of times in my entire life.  I made her look younger, thinner, and more child-like than she actually was.  She liked the result, at least the version I gave to her, which was different as well.  But the nakedness here is really mine.

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The girl in the second nude portrait I am sharing is done from more than one photograph, and the red panda was even a picture from a magazine.  So again, the picture tells you nothing about the model herself.  It tells you about me.  The happiness and warmth the picture conveys comes from the colors and the composition.  A certain freeness of spirit and joy of life.  It probably also helps you interpret this to know that my wife is from the Philippines, and hence, is the actual island girl who inspired this particular piece even though she did not pose for it herself.  The nakedness in the picture is not about sex or desire.  Rather, it is about innocence and happiness and love, warm sunshine on your naked body while at the nude beach (an experience I have only actually witnessed myself, never taken part in.)

So I am claiming in this essay that everybody is naked when you look at them with eyes of understanding.  People reveal their own naked selves by their every action, word, and deed.  As a blogger, I am probably more naked than most.  I have written a bit about literally everything that touches my life and experience.  I am a novelist too, which makes me more naked still.  But as I show you my most recent nude self-portrait and contemplate me in my utter nakedness I hope you will agree that I am not a pornographer, and I am not as ugly on the inside as I am on the outside.  Be prepared for a slight shock;

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Surely you are not surprised that the picture is in cartoon form, and not the picture of a naked sixty-year-old fat man.  It is my naked, shy self.  On the inside Mickey has always been twelve years old.  And keep this in mind.  According to my silly art-philosophy bull-puckie, you are naked too.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, colored pencil, foolishness, humor, imagination, metaphor, nudes, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Ponderously Pondering the Imponderable

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Now that I have retired as a school teacher, I have so many spare thinks to think which I do not have to use to guide the future of school children, that I begin to wonder what I am really going to do with all those closets and suitcases full of spare thinks beyond allowing them to simply pile up.

A lot of those spare thinks lately have been taken up by the imponderable primate that has taken over the government of our little country.  I am keenly aware that, in the arc of history, nations and countries and even peoples reach the eventual end of the road and simply are no more.  Our country could very well be headed the way of the Roman Empire, the Maurya Empire, the Mongol Empire, and the Abbasid Caliphate.  They all ended with a mixture of violence and upheaval and suffering.  And did you even know that they existed?  Did you know that the Roman Empire was the smallest one on my list?

The imponderable primate has also moved the Doomsday Clock thirty seconds closer to midnight.  The threats posed by nuclear war and global warming are made greater now because the hand on the ship’s wheel of the most powerful ship of state in the modern world is a tiny, unsteady hand controlled by a “really good brain”.  That’s why my Stardusters novel is a comedy about the end of the world and uses parodies of conservative politicians from our world to play the roles of lizard men intent on destroying their own planet.

I had intended to write a piece today about naked people, a light and breezy essay in more ways than one.  But I don’t want to let that turn into soft core porn or anything.  It needs to be more carefully planned and carried out.  Naked people really aren’t the danger that conservative and born-again Christians fear that they are, but you have to be careful of people’s sensibilities anyway.  Especially when you are mentally writing stuff with no metaphorical clothes on.  So I put that aside for the moment and spent some time this morning pondering the nature of pondering, what I think about thinking.  And so, while sorting through baskets and suitcases and a packed garage full of spare thinks, I wrote this essay instead, to write about nothing in a way that might actually mean something.  And if you believe that, it is no wonder the orange fellow was able to fool us all.

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Filed under blog posting, commentary, empathy, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, metaphor, strange and wonderful ideas about life