Category Archives: Mickey

Is Mickey Icky?


This post is about writer doubt. And Stephen King. Do those two things go together? If they don’t then Mickey is an awful writer and does not know how to do what he does. It would mean Mickey is icky.
532212_503279773040663_1824445573_n
I used to think Stephen King was a totally over-rated writer. Back in the early eighties I read Carrie, King’s first novel, and got halfway through Firestarter, and had to give up. Partly because the book was overdue at the library, and also because I found the books mechanical and somewhat joyless in the writing. I thought he suffered greatly in comparison to writers I was in love with at the time like Ray Bradbury and Thomas Mann. I began to tell others that King was somewhat icky.
king-901x676
But King was obviously also somewhat successful. He began to get his books made into movies and people who don’t read discovered the evil genius of a man who tells stories to scare them and laces them with a bit of real humanity, real human feeling, and love.
I saw it first in Stand by Me. That movie, starring young Wil Wheaton as the Steven King autobiographical character, really touched my heart and really made for me a deep psyche-to-psyche connection to somebody who wasn’t just a filmmaker, but somebody who was, at heart, a real human being, a real story-teller.

Now, the psyche I was connecting to may very well have been Rob Reiner, a gifted story-teller and film-maker. But it wasn’t the only King movie that reached me. The television mini-series made from It touched a lot more than just the fear centers of my brain as well. And people whose opinions I respect began telling me that the books The Dark Tower Trilogy and Misery were also amazing pieces of literature.
542830
So I picked up a copy of Hearts in Atlantis at Half-Price Books and began reading a Stephen King novel for the first time since the 80’s. MY HOLY GOD! King is not a little bit icky. He is so NOT ICKY that it makes Mickey sicky to have ever thought King was even a little bit icky! Here is a writer who loves to write. He whirls through pages with the writer’s equivalent of ballet moves, pirouettes of prose, grand jetés of character building, and thematic arabesque penchées on every side of the stage. I love what I have discovered in a writer I thought was somewhat icky. Growth and power, passion and precision, a real love of both the words and the story. He may not know what he is doing. But I know. And I love it.
Novel2bc Pix
And so, while I have been editing the first novel I ever wrote, Superchicken, to make it ready for self-publishing, I have begun to ask myself the self-critical question, “Is Mickey really icky when he writes?” My first novel is full of winces and blunders and head-banging wonders that make me want to throw the whole thing out. But I can’t throw it out. It is the baby in the first bathwater that I ever drew from the tap. The answer to the questions of Micky ickiness have yet to be determined, and not by me. I guess I have to leave it up to you.

1 Comment

Filed under artists I admire, book reports, goofy thoughts, horror writing, humor, insight, irony, Mickey, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Me, Myself, and Eye…

I am aware that nobody who looks at my blog ever clicks on my videos. This one, however, would be very useful if you are really going to read and engage with this essay. This self-reflection came into being as a response to watching this video. The video talks about how most people can’t stand to actually sit alone in a room with only themselves. And it has an impact. I have claimed in the past to being a devotee of the Theodore Roethke maxim, “Being, not doing, is my first love.”  But how does one go about becoming truly self-aware? How does one enumerate the concept of “being”? I believe I can do it, but it requires a bit of self-examination. How do I do it?  

Let me count the ways…

I put myself down on paper, through drawing or writing in English and look at the way it portrays me.

I find myself in both the written characters I create and the cartoon characters I draw. In Hidden Kingdom, my graphic novel, the Mouse and young Prinz Flute are both me. I can see myself both as the reluctant romantic hero and the snarky child-thing with a dangerous little bit of wisdom.

I learn to know more about my secret heart and what I truly think about the world I live in and react to by writing about what I think and the things that happen to me, both for good and ill. This blog is all about learning about myself, just as your blog is a mirror of who you really are. Consequently, I have no secrets left.

I not only reveal myself in this blog, but I also attempt to sing about myself in much the same way that Walt Whitman did in his poetry.

I live most of my life in my own imagination. It is a silly Willy Wonka world of images, songs, music, and dreams. It can all blow away in a moment when the sun comes out. It can also keep me in a light-obscuring cloud wrapped and safe, well away from the things I fear and the things that worry me. I came to realize I was repressing the memory of being sexually assaulted when I was ten through a dream when I was nineteen, re-living the event in a dream from which I awoke with a blinding flash of realization. I came to grips with the horror that mangled my childhood and young adulthood first by facing the fact that the nightmare had been real, and then by finding ways to overcome it. I became a teacher of young people in large part as a way to protect them and prevent such a thing from ever happening again to someone else.

I use my fictional stories about the girl Valerie Clarke to examine my relationships with my own daughter and a couple of old girlfriends from my youth.

I often worry that I don’t see real people as being real people. I tend to think of them from the first meeting onward as potential book characters, walking collections of details and quirks, conflicts and motivations. But I recognize too that that way of seeing with the author’s eye is not incorrect. People really are those things. There are rules and generalizations that everyone falls under at some point. It is not so much that I see real people as book characters as it is that I realize that book characters are as real as any other purportedly “real” people.

I am myself both the subject of my cartooning and fictionarooning, and the cartoon character of myself as well.

Mickey is not a real person. He is a cartoonist persona, a mask, a fake identity, and the lie I tell myself about who I actually am.

In this essay, I have attempted to explain to you who I think I am spending time with when I am alone in a room with myself. He is not such a terrible person to spend time with, this Mickey. Or else he really is truly awful, and I am lying about me and who I think I am when I am alone with me and have no other options. But probably not. I have been getting to know me for about 562 years, only exaggerating by 500, and I am not finished yet.

Leave a comment

Filed under autobiography, being alone, irony, Mickey, Paffooney

Human Beans Explained by a Bean-Head

Mickey was a bean-headed child, so he is the perfect person to nattate this essay.

Children don’t always hear and understand perfectly what grown-up people tell them. So it was with me and the term “human bean.” My parents were repeatedly saying that I was a “human being” like all other “human beings.” But I, of course. insisted on hearing that I was a “human bean.”

It made perfect sense to me. Mom was always saying to me at every meal, “Michael, eat your beans. Before you can leave the table you must clean your plate. So, eat ALL of your beans.”

Great Grandma always told me, “You are what you eat.”

And I believed her. That meant that more than fifty percent of me was made entirely of beans.

But Great Grandma told me that beans were protein and you needed protein to build muscles. And you also needed protein for your brain to think with.

So, I was a human bean.

And as a budding artist, I noticed things. I had visual proof.

.People like me who were bean-heads tended to be smarter people than those whose heads were flat-on top or flat in the back. It made sense. A bean-shaped head had more room in the back for brains. And that meant that bean-headed Mr. Greenjeans was actually smarter than round-headed Captain Kangaroo. And some bean-headed people were really good at basketball. John Havlicek and Wilt Chamberlin were better basketball players than the New York Knicks had, probably because they were smarter. with their bean brains.

And as a child with a bean-shaped body, I had proof that I wasn’t just “full of beans” as Great Grandma said, I was MADE of beans. That meant the fat parts of my bean-body were actually pure muscle.

One day I was out in a pasture at Uncle Larry’s farm flying my box kite, the one I made myself with only a little help from my dad.

As I was flying it high enough to be seen from far away, two girls I knew from school and lived nearby came up to me to admire my kite as it flew.

Coraline Bigsby was a couple months older than me and a grade ahead of me in school. Alicia Stewart was a couple months younger than me and in my second-grade class.

“Wow,” said Alicia. “I have never seen a kite like that fly so high. How did you get it up there?”

I was probably blushing as I answered, since I secretly had a crush on her, the prettiest girl in our school. “I know the magic secrets to get it to fly like that.”

“Could you let us try?” Coraline asked. She was blonder and plumper than Alicia, but still generally a nice girl.

I handed Coraline the kite string. Almost instantly the wind died down and the kite floated gently down to the pasture grass.

The two girls both were instantly sorry that they had been the cause of my kite coming down. But no matter which one held the kite and which one held the string, they couldn’t get it up in the air again.

“Okay, Mike, what’s the magic secret to getting it to fly?” said Coraline, frustrated.

I, of course, with my great bean-brain, decided it was the perfect time to tell an evil lie. “This kite will only go up if you reduce wind resistance by taking off all your clothes.”

“My parents would kill me, if I did that,” said Coraline. “It is a bad thing to do.”

“Well, I don’t know about that,” said Alicia, “But I’m way too shy to take my clothes off in front of a boy.”

“You didn’t do that to get it up the first time, Mike. You’re lying to us.” Coraline was getting mad.

“Yes, I did. You two weren’t here then. I put my clothes back on before you got here.”

“There isn’t any reason to do it that way anyway. What’s the advantage of being naked?” Coraline growled.

“Your clothes block the wind that’s needed to make the box kite fly. That’s what’s different about box kites.”

“Why don’t you show us, Michael. That will prove you are telling the truth,” said Alicia.

My eight-year-old bean brain began to panic. I was putting my own foot into the evil trap I tried to set. Okay, maybe not precisely my foot. I had to let them uncover my lie, or I had to uncover everything else.

Coraline was glaring at me. Alicia was smiling.

Well, you made your own horrible situation come to pass, Mickey. What are you going to do?

When I first took them all off and put back on my shoes, Coraline covered her eyes and Alicia blushed, but smiled as she watched everything I did. I was worried what they would say when I couldn’t get the kite back up in the breeze. But it almost immediately caught the wind and went up even higher than before. They were both happy to hold the string for a short time. But when I asked them if they would use my magic method to get it back up, they both declined. They were perfectly happy to stand next to me while I flew the kite in my bean-body birthday suit. They giggled a lot and looked at me more than they looked at the kite. But they were both happy with how that day went.

Leave a comment

Filed under autobiography, humor, lying, Mickey, Paffooney

Musings on Manic Mumbles in My Mind

The voices in my head never stop mumbling. For the past year I have been having trouble with passing out while trying to write or draw or watch TV. And yet, scenes play out vividly in the theater of my mind while I am briefly unconscious. I’ve been to the doctor about it. But there is no cure for the yammerings of an unquiet thought-mill. The word-weavers keep weaving new sentences. The cloth-cutters keep snipping out patterns and themes. And the prose-sewers keep making essays and shirts and jeans. How did my mental-breakdown voices get stuck inside a garment mill?

The mutterings this morning have been about writing success. Do I dare think any of that has my name associated with it?

Well, my blog views have been up this week. And this morning my prayers have been answered for my book Sing Sad Songs. A reviewer defended my book as a legitimate 5-star novel, and refuted the charges that my book is somehow child-pornography. I have been needing some validation that my book, the product of my darkest secrets and the affirmation of my victory over personal pain, is worthy of being seen as a good book.

And, of course, I have been thinking a lot about the talking-dog story, the one about Horatio who smokes an imaginary meerschaum pipe and talks only to Bobby Niland, and solves murders committed on chickens by the evil Dr. Rattiarty, a really evil real rat.

I have been discussing it endlessly with my dog on our walks in the park for her to take care of her pooping in public. We argue endlessly about how to make the tale believable.

She says, “The thing you don’t seem to understand is that, in real life, dogs can’t talk.”

And I say, “Then how is it that we are even arguing at the moment?”

And she answers, “It’s all because you insist on listening continually to the voices in your head.”

And there is a considerable discussion going on in the faculty lounge of my mental monkey house about the fact that for so many years I had numerous opportunities to be a practicing nudist, and I ran away from it as something I should not do… Until I grew old and weak and gave in to the desire to become a naked man amongst socially nude naturists and now I am unable to physically do it in any way but in my imagination.

“You simply lack the resolve, Michael, to take the bull by the horns and tackle it,” said the Dean of Brain Studies.

“Well, of course he can’t do that!” exclaimed the Professor of Inappropriate Thoughts. “Mickey has no Moo-Wrestling muscles to manage the kind of bull fighting you suggest. The kind where he wrestles with bull-puckie.”

“Mike is a man who can make up his own mind,” said the Associate Professor of Metaphor Mixing. “He just has to stop listening to us.”

“Can you all just SHUT UP!!!” said the Teaching Assistant of Pragmatic Prattle. “We are just a Monkey-House faculty incapable of making any sense.”

So, I am taking the Teaching Assistant’s advice now, and I am closing this essay immediately.

2 Comments

Filed under artwork, autobiography, humor, mental health, metaphor, Mickey, Paffooney, self pity

What Stupid People Think About

Let me begin by reminding you that the only head I have to explore as an example of what I am talking about in this essay is my own stupid head.

So, this is not an insult post. This is self-deprecating humor. And therefore, the contents of your own stupid head are completely safe.

Now, there is considerable evidence in the books already that Mickey is not, and has not been, particularly stupid for a large portion of his time on earth. He got college scholarships based on his ACT and SAT scores to get his undergraduate degree for free (in the 1970’s when it was significantly cheaper than now). And he has been both a teacher in a gifted program and the middle-school coordinator of that same gifted program. So, Mickey has effectively fooled everybody into thinking he is not stupid. But consider for a moment where the laughs come from when watching Stephen Urkel on TV, or the four nerds from Big Bang Theory. Smart people do stupid things and are very awkward at times, proving that, no matter how smart they are, smart people are capable of being quite stupid.

What, then, is the stupid thinking in Mickey’s stupid head?

Well, there are a number of things. Mickey is, as you may know if you read any of his nudity blogs, obsessed with nakedness. He was assaulted as a child in a way that caused him to be afraid of nudity and slow-developing in sexuality. As he grew older, he had to compensate for this lack of natural development. So, he has reached an age where his brain stupidly rejects guard-rails when talking about nudity and sex. He has convinced himself that he wants to be a nudist, and writes about nudity constantly, as evidenced by this very paragraph. When Mark Twain was in his seventies, he did leave the house without remembering to wear clothes more than once. The neighbors did not compliment him for doing that. That and worse is probably in Mickey’s near future.

And sex, as a subject sloshing around in a brain awash with hormones and other nightmare chemical imbalances, leads to a rash of stupid decisions. Of course, Mickey is old and has had chronic prostatitis long enough to eliminate the possibility of making a stupid decision about infidelity since those body parts don’t actually work anymore, but it leads to buying numerous things sold by marketers using sex as a way to sell things. Cabinets full of hair gel and cologne and Herbalife products that can never be used up is the result. And the wife is frustrated with the foods Mickey is constantly addicted to. “Why so much chips and salsa, Mickey?” Chips and salsa? Hubba hubba!

And Mickey’s old brain, full of a vast quantity of useless trivia-type knowledge, random wisdom floating around in a disconnected fashion, and prejudices formed by a bizarre obsession with things like nudism, Disney movies, comic books, model trains, and doll-collecting, becomes strangely creative. He begins to believe weird things.

For example, he thinks rabbits, if they were suddenly transformed into people, would make better people than people ever do. They are mostly quiet most of the time. They eat an all-vegetable, healthy diet. And they don’t vote Republican.

He obsessively also thinks about how his mind is working and how thinking about thinking is likely to improve thinking. He even realizes that the map of his head, provided above, doesn’t accurately reflect the many branching corridors and dead-end hallways of his actually-complicated-yet-stupid mind. He thinks that thinking too much about thinking makes you stupid.

I have illustrated this entire piece without uploading any new art… What a stupid thing is that?

And finally, Mickey is left with a sense of wonder about how it is entirely possible that everybody is stupid at least part of the time. And he wonders what possible things that you, dear reader, are thinking about that you consider at least somewhat stupid? You are welcome to tell him in the comments. But remember, this post is about stupid thoughts in Mickey’s head. You are perfectly free not to worry about your own stupidity.

3 Comments

Filed under artwork, autobiography, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, foolishness, goofy thoughts, humor, Mickey, Paffooney, satire, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Cardinal Virtues

Ah, the little red bird that does not fly away when the winter comes. It sticks around to weather the snow and cold. Perseverance is a cardinal virtue. So, is remaining a cardinals’ fan over a lifetime. These football heroes were not my first cardinal team. The baseball cardinals of the 1960’s were. I am being honest here because honesty is also a cardinal virtue.

They were the champions of the NFL before I was born, as proven by this championship ring from 1947. Winning is not a cardinal virtue, but working hard enough to be the champion reveals that consistency and a good work ethic are.

They had heroes that made the Football Hall of Fame, and they were generally not racist because Ollie Matson was breaking the color barrier at around the same time as Jackie Robinson in baseball.

I’d like to say that I learned not to be a racist from rooting for the Cardinals, but I never saw the Chicago Redbirds on TV, or knew anything about them until I was arguing with Minnesota Vikings fans about the merits of rooting for a team that never wins. I did research. I won the argument when the Vikings lost their first Superbowl to the Kansas City Chiefs. The first of many lost Vikings’ Superbowls/

The search for truth, undertaken with upright motivations is also a cardinal virtue.

The Cardinals were in St. Louis in the 1970’s for what I look at as the “Glory Years.” They had great players like Larry Wilson, Hall-of-Fame Safety, Quarterback Jim Hart, Running Back Otis Anderson, Tight End Jackie Smith, Reciever Mel Gray, and Halfback Terry Metcalf. Don Coryell and Bud Wilkerson were the coaches that took them into the playoffs where they never quite won it all. But there were some very intense games in those playoffs where they both won and lost by inches.

In those “Cardiac Cardinals’ games” I learned to never give up. One time Mel Gray came through in the final minutes, catching the ball at the goal line as time expired… but fumbling… but-but not before, the replay official determined twenty minutes later, crossing the goal line and winning the game.

Wow!

Sometimes the thrill of the hunt supersedes the final outcome.

And, of course, it is a cardinal virtue to never say die.

Now, the Cardinals, located in Arizona, are at it again. They have a new potential MVP in Quarterback Kyler Murray. And yesterday they extended their unbeaten streak to six games. They are currently the only undefeated team in the NFL. I have high hopes again. High apple pie in the sky hopes. And I may learn another virtue or two.

5 Comments

Filed under cardinals, football, football fan, humor, Mickey, sports, St. Louis

Musings on Manic Mumbles in My Mind

The voices in my head never stop mumbling. For the past year I have been having trouble with passing out while trying to write or draw or watch TV. And yet, scenes play out vividly in the theater of my mind while I am briefly unconscious. I’ve been to the doctor about it. But there is no cure for the yammerings of an unquiet thought-mill. The word-weavers keep weaving new sentences. The cloth-cutters keep snipping out patterns and themes. And the prose-sewers keep making essays and shirts and jeans. How did my mental-breakdown voices get stuck inside a garment mill?

The mutterings this morning have been about writing success. Do I dare think any of that has my name associated with it?

Well, my blog views have been up this week. And this morning my prayers have been answered for my book Sing Sad Songs. A reviewer defended my book as a legitimate 5-star novel, and refuted the charges that my book is somehow child-pornography. I have been needing some validation that my book, the product of my darkest secrets and the affirmation of my victory over personal pain, is worthy of being seen as a good book.

And, of course, I have been thinking a lot about the talking-dog story, the one about Horatio who smokes an imaginary meerschaum pipe and talks only to Bobby Niland, and solves murders committed on chickens by the evil Dr. Rattiarty, a really evil real rat.

I have been discussing it endlessly with my dog on our walks in the park for her to take care of her pooping in public. We argue endlessly about how to make the tale believable.

She says, “The thing you don’t seem to understand is that, in real life, dogs can’t talk.”

And I say, “Then how is it that we are even arguing at the moment?”

And she answers, “It’s all because you insist on listening continually to the voices in your head.”

And there is a considerable discussion going on in the faculty lounge of my mental monkey house about the fact that for so many years I had numerous opportunities to be a practicing nudist, and I ran away from it as something I should not do… Until I grew old and weak and gave in to the desire to become a naked man amongst socially nude naturists and now I am unable to physically do it in any way but in my imagination.

“You simply lack the resolve, Michael, to take the bull by the horns and tackle it,” said the Dean of Brain Studies.

“Well, of course he can’t do that!” exclaimed the Professor of Inappropriate Thoughts. “Mickey has no Moo-Wrestling muscles to manage the kind of bull fighting you suggest. The kind where he wrestles with bull-puckie.”

“Mike is a man who can make up his own mind,” said the Associate Professor of Metaphor Mixing. “He just has to stop listening to us.”

“Can you all just SHUT UP!!!” said the Teaching Assistant of Pragmatic Prattle. “We are just a Monkey-House faculty incapable of making any sense.”

So, I am taking the Teaching Assistant’s advice now, and I am closing this essay immediately.

1 Comment

Filed under artwork, autobiography, humor, mental health, metaphor, Mickey, Paffooney, self pity

Foopty-Hoodooloo

Ima mickey33

I’m a Mickey, yes, indeedy…

Foopty-Hoopty-Hoodilly-Hoo!

Chicken-ninja throwing stars,

Hit their targets thrown from Mars…

Foopty-Hoodilly-Hee

And when the pandas drive their cars,

Their tire treads are candy bars!

Take that truth from me!

Animal Town212

Foopty-Hoopty-Fiddly-Ho!

Being a Mickey is a rabbity thing…

As if it were Bugs who taught us to sing,

And unmusical music we all start to bring…

Because we use only the words that we know!

Foopty-Hoodilly-Fling-a-ding-Ding!

castle carrot

Leave a comment

Filed under goofy thoughts, humor, Mickey, Paffooney, Paffooney cartoony, poetry, rabbit people

Mickey Under the Magnifying Glass

Self-reflection is a critical part of being a writer and an author. At least it is if you are a mostly-ignored and somewhat unsuccessful one. That’s really the full extent of my personal expertise on this subject.

But knowing your own personal strengths and weaknesses is the only way to continue to sharpen the blades you use to cut insightful, heartfelt stories out of your own life experiences.

For example, the thing I think is most important to know about myself is that I do have the ability to laugh at myself, even when the thing I am laughing at hurts quite a lot. A sense of humor is a life skill that people who experience depression, chronic pain, and personal trauma need in order to survive.

Robin Williams is the quintessential sad clown. He lived to the age of 61 before depression ended him. Think of how much younger he would’ve been in leaving us all behind if he hadn’t had his bright, silvery suit of comedy armor to get him through life. But that’s a downer. One of my biggest failures is that I will bluntly drop a big black bomb like that in the middle of a sensitive and heartfelt scene, or in the fourth paragraph of an essay that you found interesting enough to read.

I find I am often guilty of not knowing when to give up on something and cut my losses. But at the same time as I am contemplating ending this essay before I lose more readers than ever, I remember what makes the cardinal a personal symbol for me. Cardinals are a bright red songbird that never flies away when the winter comes. It will stupidly stay put even in snow and cold and a total lack of food, choosing to starve or freeze to death over leaving its home territory. I was like that as a teacher. After the first two miserable years, I decided to stay put in that little South Texas school district where I was underpaid and constantly abused by parents and students and even some other school personnel. I refused to leave without first proving to myself that I could do the job and be good at it. I stayed for twenty]-three years, becoming the head of the English Department, a leader of the Gifted and Talented Program, and a generally well-loved teacher of a generation of students. (I left before the grandson and granddaughter of two of the kids in my very first class were about to enter middle school.)

I guess, thinking about it critically, sometimes your weaknesses and your strengths are not only related, they are the same thing.

I have been accused of not being serious enough to be a teacher. And that has carried over to the writing of young adult fiction. Reviewers have told me that putting details about sex, violence, and dark humor in a story is not appropriate for young, middle-school-aged readers. One reviewer told me that I was practically a child pornographer, even though the book had no explicit sex scene and only talked about the subjects of love, sex, and intimacy.

But I am a believer in not shying away from subjects that kids want to know about. As a victim of a sexual assault in childhood, I found that fiction and nonfiction that discussed sexuality and morality were life-saving, and gave me the guidance I needed to recover from what my own monster encounter scarred me with. And I was able to eventually laugh at the things that had been tearing me apart. I think fiction like that, frank, honest, and clearly guiding the reader towards the right path is what is most needed in YA literature.

Again, I think my weakness for absurd and chaotic humor is both a weakness and a strength. We all need to laugh more and suffer less. And we don’t get there by avoiding our problems in life, but by fighting through them to the other side.

I am not fool enough to think I know all the answers. In fact, there are lots of things I know I don’t know anything at all about.

I don’t know what causes people to vote Republican. I don’t know if we can ever achieve a real, space-faring Buck Rodgers life. And I apparently don’t know the first thing about successfully marketing self-published books. But I know the problems are there. I see them in my magnifying glass. And I am working on them. I will get better.

Me back in the days when I actually knew what I was doing.

Leave a comment

Filed under autobiography, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, humor, Mickey, monsters, writing teacher

Elderberries of Wisdom

Now, during the winter of Covid 19, is the right time for a bite of elderberry pie. Or a sip of elderberry wine. Did you know, the antioxidants in elderberries are a European remedy for colds and flu from the middle ages? There is old wisdom in turning to elderberries to protect you from virus and bacteria.

And old wisdom is what you get from old berries like me. The longer you put up with my blue/black berry tartness of taste, the more likely my bittersweet wisdom is to affect you in some positive ways.

Here’s a bite of elderberry pie for you. “When it comes to taste, don’t go for too much sweet or two much sour. The road between those two valley edges avoids both diabetic breakdowns on the one hand, and old, bitter cynicism on the other.”

The middle road, down the canyon’s center, is the safest road to take. Go too far to either side, and there are cliffs with many rockfalls, and occasional rattlesnakes. (I know these are metaphorical rattlesnakes; those are the best kind. It is the best way to express the idea without actual snakebites, and I only wish the members of our governing bodies knew that.)

Here’s another forkful. “A little bit of bitter is necessary to the overall flavor.”

I could also use the trite old food metaphor about having to break eggs to make omelets, but I am trying for pie-based metaphors here. You have to take a little bit of the bad to get to the really good parts. Sometimes it seems like it takes an awful lot of endurance of the bad to get to not-enough good. The current pandemic seems to be like that. Almost too many bitter berries to get to the medicinal qualities of basically beauteous berries. But that which doesn’t kill us will make us… easier to kill next time? Hopefully not. But haven’t you noticed? The best Disney movies make you cry a little at some points… cringe a little too… but they also make you laugh a lot. And the message of the movie’s ultimate ending leaves you with a smile. And smiling more makes you live a little longer. The berries grow brighter when you can make your own sunshine. These berries are beginning to taste a bit like vinegar because maybe Mickey doesn’t cook them quite right. But bottle them for now and let them ferment a bit. Then you get medicinal elderberry wine.

“Finally, when you have pigged-out on the whole pie, you should be full. It is good to be satisfied.” Eventually you reach a point in life where you will either succumb to despair, or you will look back over the arc of your life and be satisfied. The good you have done should outweigh the damage. You are a good cook. And the whole pie of your life was worth the effort to bake it.

I know that three bites of elderberry wisdom does not seem like much. But the longer you practice berry-baking, the more you come to realize, “A little bit of hard-won wisdom goes a long way towards making you healthy, wealthy and wise.”

  • No, Ben Franklin never said that. Mickey did. Sorry if that means it is not the wise wisdom you were hoping for. Pie-based essays rarely are.

Leave a comment

Filed under humor, insight, metaphor, Mickey, satire