Category Archives: Mickey

Mickey at Sixty

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It is true that I am now only a month away from being 61.  But this reflection is based on what happened to me while undergoing the year past.  My fictional character, Valerie Clarke, took the selfie above of the two of us.  She doesn’t have her own smartphone, after all, she’s a fictional character, so she used mine.  It shows in the picture what she looked like at eleven and what I looked like at sixty years and eleven months, in other words, this morning.

So, what exactly does the picture reveal about us?

Well, for her, it is fairly obvious that she’s only an imaginary person.  She was eleven in 1984, the year of the fictional snowstorm in Snow Babies.  She’s a bright and vibrant young girl with hopes and dreams ahead of her.  She’s also known tragedy, especially after her father’s suicide.  But the fact that she’s fictional and based on more than one real person from my past does a lot to explain why this reflection is not about her.

For me, however, you get a look at a grumpy old man with a straw farmer’s hat, an author’s beard, and silvery Gandalf hair.  More of my drawings are glimpsable on the wall behind me.  I look like the kind of seedy old curmudgeon who yells at neighbor kids who walk on his lawn.

But I’m really not what I look like.

I am a writer.  So I am full of experiences, ideas, and feelings.  And I am also full of people.  Valerie is only one of those.  I create fictional people from the people I knew or knew about in my little Iowa town, Rowan, where I grew up.  Kids that went to school with me.  Their parents.  Shopkeepers and business people and creepy old people that I sometimes encountered.  Hot tempered people.  Wise people.  And stupid people who were often laughed at for good reason.

I can also draw on (and draw pictures of) all the people I knew as an educator.  More than two thousand kids who passed through my classes in four different schools, some of whom I knew as well as I knew my own children, were available to pull details from to mix and match and make fictional characters from.  Fellow teachers, some gifted with a natural way with students, some hopelessly lost in the wrong profession with the wrong sort of personality were also available to make characters from.  Fools and idealists.  Bullies and shrinking violets.  Heroes that possible readers could look up to and love.

I am the kaleidoscope, the thing that you can look through to see the world and have it refracted and patterned to make it beautiful, even in its ugliness.

But all of this reflection is only that, the view in the mirror, the outward look of the man who is me.  Mickey at sixty is many things, not all of them pretty, not all of them wise.  But some of them are.  And some even better than I think they are.

 

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Filed under autobiography, characters, commentary, humor, Mickey, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Toys From My Second Childhood

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Being retired for health reasons and unable to work, I would be dead already without my writing and art endeavors to fill my time and keep me sane.  I can do some work, as proven by my attempts to patch and repair the swimming pool this summer.  But my limitations drive me crazy, as proven by the fact that I did about half of the work on the pool wearing only sunscreen and a hat.  My kids are not married yet, and two of them are still in high school, but they are not much interested in toys any more.  And I don’t yet have grandkids to spoil.  So when I go the Resale Store or Goodwill to shop for old toys, I am basically buying them for myself.

The Princess of the Korean Court Barbie was lying on the bargain shelf for $3.49.  I bought the ceramic wishing well behind her for $5.00.  So the bargain-hunting gene I inherited from Scotch ancestors was duly satisfied.  But I had to do more with things like these than merely own them.  Toys are for playing. And what does a 60-year-old man do with dolls when he is playing?  Besides being a bit creepy, I mean?  Well, this photo is the answer.  I use my toys to create pictures and artwork.

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Here’s a creation using the ceramic wishing well again.  It is apparently, on closer inspection, actually a candle holder.  But it serves to make my Walmart Clearance Sale Disney toys happy.  Here you see the pony-brushing party held by Minnie Mouse with Daisy Duck and the gay snowman from Frozen.

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Here you see the metal miniatures I got in a pack from Walmart as they visit the cardboard castle.  Two of the lead figures on the ground are hand painted by me in days long ago.  The entire cardboard castle was printed and glued on cardboard, cut out and put together entirely by me.  Mickey, Minnie, Alice, Stitch, and Kermit are the metal miniatures not painted by me.

So, my days have not been overwhelmed by boredom and frustration and problems with city pool inspectors (he doesn’t even know about doing the repair work in the nude, so he can’t give me a ticket for that.)  I have been filling my time with toys and creative play.  I have been mostly a good boy… err… old man.

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Filed under action figures, Barbie and Ken, doll collecting, foolishness, goofy thoughts, making cardboard castles, Mickey, photo paffoonies, playing with toys, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Fact or Opinion (It’s a Teacher Thing)

“Climate change is a hoax by the Chinese.” 

That, unfortunately, is not an opinion.  It is a fact.  It is a FALSE FACT.

Facts are statements that can be proven or disproven.  There are studies by government agencies and university science departments all over the world that provide evidence to back up the theory that the climate is drastically changing in ways that threaten our existence.  The studies are repeatable, peer reviewed, and thoroughly “vetted”, to use the new word that Republicans embrace so deeply and lovingly for immigration issues.  On the other side of the question, you have scoffing congressmen who bring snowballs into the capitol and say, “See?  The science is not proven.”   That is not a fact.   Where is the evidence which is not anecdotal and based on a misunderstanding of the difference between “climate change” and “weather change”?  That is by definition an opinion.  And it is not even an informed opinion.  Opinions are not equal to facts.  Comparing the two is like comparing apples to onions.  No, that is not even correct.  You can eat both of those things.  It is more like comparing apples to planetary moons.

After a long and heated Facebook debate about immigration between me, a Texas teacher, and an Iowa Republican Trump supporter I went to high school with who doesn’t even know if he ever met an illegal immigrant, I have pretty well proven to myself that a big share of the divide between liberals and conservatives stems from the unwillingness of one side to avoid equating facts and opinions.  Apples and moons.

So give me a moment to do what teachers do.

Here is a non-political lesson in Fact versus Opinion.

Who do you prefer?  Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny?  The answer doesn’t matter to me.

I can give you a quick and dirty lesson on fact and opinion using these two cartoon characters.  And it doesn’t even matter who you like more.

Here are some obvious facts about the two of them.

They are both cartoon characters.  They are both anthropomorphic animals.  They both wear gloves most of the time.  They both have a thumb and three fingers on each hand.

These things are observably true.  You can prove them by looking at the illustrations I have already provided.

Other things may not be as readily apparent, but no less provable.

Both of them are heterosexual and both of them have one main love interest.  Neither of them have ever been married, but neither of them really are playboys and even though there are no legitimate bits of evidence that either one has ever had sex with their respective girlfriends, Bugs has kissed Lola on more than one occasion and Mickey has kept company with Minnie for longer than most old married couples.

These things are provable by watching the cartoons and observing a preponderance of evidence.  There is no contradictory evidence.  But the possibility of contradictory evidence doesn’t change these things into opinions.  A disproven fact is still a fact.  It is merely a false fact.  Over time the relationship between Bugs and Daffy Duck may become clearer and the fact that Bugs is gay may pop out of the cartoon closet.  It does however, require proof, so it is a fact, not an opinion.

Here’s another fact you know the evidence supports.  Bugs Bunny is a nudist.  He almost always appears in cartoons naked.  Mickey, however, believes in wearing clothes.  Even when he gets out of the bath tub, he clutches the nearest towel, and you never get a look at whether he has cartoon genitals or not.  Mickey does hang out a lot with a duck who wears no pants, but that’s an irrelevant fact.

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The notion that Mickey and Bugs are very different personalities because they had very different creators, is an opinion.  It is a opinion offered by people who have studied the characters and their creators, and therefore can give you an informed opinion.  But it still can’t be proven.

Walt Disney made Mickey into more or less of an every-man sort of character whom audiences can identify with.  Things happen to Mickey Mouse, and the comedy comes from him trying to deal with those external forces, be they wind storms during music concerts, Donald Duck’s raging temper, or the evil plots of Black Pete.  Walt never said this was so to prove it, but it is not unreasonable to think it.

Bugs Bunny, on the other hand, was created by several great animators like Robert McKimson, Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, and Bob Clampett.  And Bugs tends to make things happen to other characters.  Think of how he plays Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, and even his pal Daffy for laughs.  He is more of a Groucho Marx type character than an every-man.  We don’t identify with him.  We only laugh at his victims (because they always deserve what he gives them).  That too is an opinion.  And even if one of his creators were to say that this was the intent, it still is not proven until all of them agree.  And they all had very different ways of doing things.

But these are only informed opinions.  You cannot be proven wrong whether you agree or disagree with them.  You are entitled to your own interpretations and opinions because they are not provable facts.  There is no one way to view any opinion.

Opinions, even un-informed opinions and religious beliefs are never either wrong or right.  You don’t make a mistake when you have an opinion.  It only becomes a mistake when you try to use it as a fact, or mistakenly believe it is a fact.

So, there is my lesson for those Facebook arguers who never seem to know the difference.  It’s all color-coded and everything.  So try using this new knowledge when arguing with me, rather than calling me stupid, or making your point IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS!

 

 

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Filed under angry rant, artists I admire, cartoons, commentary, education, Mickey, strange and wonderful ideas about life, teaching

Mickey Notes

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This is the purple-furred Mickey Icon done Don Martin-style.

If you are one of those readers who has taken to regularly reading Mickey posts on Catch a Falling Star ( a habit that is probably bad for you, but certainly not fatal), there are some things and random recent developments that you should probably be made aware of.

  • Mickey recently finished a rough-draft novel.  After giving birth to a massive 12-month-long-gestating thought artifact like that, there is bound to be some necessary recovery time involved.  He may be difficult to understand for a while as he puts the pieces of his psyche back together again.  Using mental duct tape for such things takes time and patience.
  • The novel is called Recipes for Gingerbread Children.  If that arouses curiosity in you (a condition that I also hope is not fatal… You are not a cat, are you?), there are instances of rants and delusional spoutings about this story to be found in recent posts on this blog.  Unfortunately, it will not be published immediately.  You will have to wait to actually read it until I or my heirs eventually get it published… by whatever means necessary (though I have my doubts about the plan involving kidnapped alien slaves and mimeograph machines.)
  • The novel I do have nearing publication is Magical Miss Morgan.  I recently submitted approval for final edits to my project manager for Page Publishing.  Since I am investing my own money in this publication project, I am expecting that it will get published before 2017 is done.  I will continue to relentlessly plug the thing here.
  • Page Publishing is a less expensive and less professional publisher than I-Universe that did Catch a Falling Star for me.  If you are reading this for ideas about pursuing publication yourself, I would recommend the more expensive publisher first, due to the quality of their professional editors, though I intend to continue publishing my books with less expensive self-publishing options like Amazon from here on.  As I finish the publishing process I am now involved in, I promise to complain about publishers and throw Mark-Twain-like insult fits in future blog posts.  No one should have to repeat the egregious mistakes that Mickey has made.
  • Catch a Falling Star, the blog, will continue to be a blog about my artwork, my story-telling, my teacher memories, and my generally confusing and bombastic opinions about life, the universe, and everything… including pies.  Mmm!  Pies are good.  You might even want to look at my essay on Gooseberry Pie.

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In case you were not aware of it, this purple mouse-man is Mickey, and Mickey is the writer-spirit within me.  Mickey is not actually me.  You know how Mark Twain is not really a real person?  The real person was Samuel Langhorn Clemens.  Mickey is not a really real person either.  Michael Beyer, cartoonist, writer, and former middle school teacher is the real person… if any former middle school teacher can ever be considered a real person.

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Filed under feeling sorry for myself, humor, Mickey, novel, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, publishing, strange and wonderful ideas about life, work in progress, writing, writing humor

The Many People That Are Me

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Yes, I am a wizard.  That is a complicated thing to say.  It is complicated because a wizard has to be a wise man, and wisdom has to begin with the idea that you know practically nothing about anything… but you can find out.  So one version of me has to be my wizard D&D character, the wizard Eli Tragedy.  This is because I know practically nothing about anything… but I am willing to not be stupid and look stuff up before I tell you anything and pretend it is a wise thing to say.

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I have been thinking about who I am because I want to re-do my About the Author page.   And that leads to the difficulty of explaining who Mickey actually is.  You see, I am actually lots of different people in my head.  Mickey is the cartoonist, the humorist, the clown.  He is not the every-day me.  He is the goofy and foofy and lovey-to-drawie part of me.  And yes, I know some of those are not real words.  Mickey is like that.  He speaks Mickian Goof Speak.  I have no control over that part of him.  I am not certain where this Mickey-part of my soul originated, but it may be the result of too much TV when I was a kid.

And of course there is the Teacher-Me, Reluctant Rabbit, the person who stood in front of groups of twelve-thirteen-and-fourteen-year-olds for three decades and tap-danced, told stories, stood on my head, and begged them to internalize at least a lesson or two of what I tried to teach them.

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And the wizard part of me was just barely wise enough to realize that a teacher can open doors, but you can’t shove a kid through.  They have to take the critical learning step themselves.  They have to want to learn something.  But even though they actually do the learning themselves, they will come back to me in later years saying, “Oh, thank you, you taught me so much!” when really all I did was be a guide on the side and stayed out of their way.

And, of course, there is the Cowboy Me.  I live in Texas.  I was a Belmond Bronco in high school, but I became a Cotulla Cowboy for 24 years of my teaching career.  I ended up as a Naaman Forest Ranger.  I have worn the hat a lot in my life, being as much of a straight shooter as the Shakiest Gun In The West can be, always trying to shoot the six-guns out of the bad guy’s hands rather than shoot people.

So how do I explain a thing like that?  Probably the way I just did it (ironically).  I should use Paffoonies I have created over time and waffle about stupid stuff that might make people laugh when they realize how self-contradictory it is.  And I should say it like I mean it… because I probably do.

 

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, humor, Mickey, Paffooney, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life, Uncategorized

Mickey and the Really Cool Car

As a former public school teacher, I have always driven a sensible car.  I was owner of a long line of Ford Tempos, Ford Escorts, and Ford Fiestas.  Cars on a teacher’s budget.  I was lucky to be at least one step above Hondas and AMC Gremlins, though Ford, as we all know, is the acronym for “Fix Or Repair Daily”.  Well, this week I have encountered a Really Cool Car for the first time in my life.  Oh, I have ridden in them before… had show-off-y friends who owned them and rich relatives.  (Did you know I’m related to Nelson Rockefeller?  It’s through the Aldrich part of his family, his mother’s side.  But distant enough to be totally out of the inheritance lottery.)  But never before have I driven one.

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The latest daily repair which involved hitting a pothole in my new Fiesta and destroying a front wheel, required a rental car.  But thanks to recent hail in the DFW area, Enterprise Rent-a-Car had no cheap ones available that the insurance would completely pay for.  Instead, I had to settle for a 2015 Dodge Challenger, a $95 a day expense that would’ve bankrupted me two months ago.  As it is, the cost is taking a big bite out of my newly restored credit standing.  But… hey!  A sports car!

Of course, the threat of more hail has been looming, and though my car insurance would cover the damage (minus the $500 deductible) I would have to continue to pay rent on it each day it spent in the shop… and that could take months.  It gives me pause because I do not have any place to shelter it beyond one live oak tree that spreads her mighty greens out over the street where my previous Fiesta was killed in a drive-by.  But… hey again!  A sports car!

It drives like a dream.  I never imagined a car could handle so easily and have so much potential power under the hood.  The rental people told me there was no mileage limit at this price level.  A weekend in Vegas?  Tempting, but I am a former school teacher.  The level of trouble I could get into as the country mouse in the big city is too scary to contemplate.  I would be some cat’s dinner for sure.  I have dared to drive the thing to pick up kids at school, and driving to Walmart where there are evil decorative rocks lurking everywhere.  But that is the limit of the daring side of me.  I might take my family to a movie at Cinemark later.  But that’s about as wild-side as I ever walk.

Will I ever drive a sports car like this again?  A sleek black Batmobile-looking thing that makes me feel powerful and potentially wild?  Of course not!  It’s Mickey we are talking about here.

 

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Filed under autobiography, humor, Mickey, photo paffoonies

Mickey Draws Mickey

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I learned to draw comics by copying the comics.  So how many times has Mickey actually drawn Mickey?  More than I can count.  I hate throwing a drawing away, even if I did it when I was ten.  But I cannot find all the drawings I have done of Mickey Mouse.  I know some have been given away, some have gotten lost, and some may have even gone up in flames in the garbage barrel out back of the house in the 1960’s.  I have posted pictures of Mickey before.  Remember this one?

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But I can basically do Mickey without looking at any references.  I can do him well enough that people often say, “You didn’t really draw that, did you?”  That’s why I included the simple pen and ink stage of today’s Mickey.  You can see it is really me drawing it.  But the absolute truth is, I draw Mickey because in so many ways I am Mickey.  Yes, I’m a talking mouse that drives a car and owns a dog.  And even though Disney sues right and left for any imagined copyright infringement, I can safely post this here because it is fan art… and I don’t get paid anything for this goofy blog anyway.  It is homage, not theft of intellectual property.

So, here is the final product, drawn this morning, the day after St. Patrick’s day 2016.

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Filed under cartoons, cartoony Paffooney, Disney, humor, Mickey, Paffooney