Category Archives: Paffooney

Horatio T. Dogg… Canto 14

Reichenbach Falls

Bobby and his book were perched in the rocking chair on the porch with Horatio curled up on the rug by his feet.  The reading lamp was on, but otherwise the porch was mostly dark.  Dad and Grandpa had finished closing the porch-window shutters over an hour earlier.  Thunder rumbled eerily somewhere out in the dark of the early evening.

“It sure is spooky out there,” said Shane from his seat in the darkness around the porch sofa.

“It’s just a summer thunderstorm,” said Bobby, turning a page.

“Whatcha readin’?”

“Sherlock Holmes.”

 “Oh?  What’s the story called?”

“The Final Problem.”

“Is that a good one?”

“No.  Sherlock fights Professor Moriarty at a waterfall in Switzerland called Reichenbach Falls.  They both go over the edge and fall to their deaths.”

“Sherlock dies?”  Shane sounded genuinely alarmed.

“Yeah.  But he’s not real.  And he comes back to life.  The Hound of the Baskervilles happens after this story.”

“Oh.”  Shane sounded relieved.

Then the place was briefly white with light from outside, and the thunderstrike that followed almost instantly meant that lightning had hit something nearby.  ProbaHbly the lightning rod on the barn’s cupola.

But Bobby and Shane both jumped as the electricity went out, leaving them in inky blackness.  A few seconds later, the lights were on again.

“What was that!?” Shane practically screeched.

“From the ozone smell in the air, I surmise that lightning struck nearby.  Close enough to cause a brief power outage via electromagnetic pulse.”  Horatio looked calm and unconcerned as he said it.

“Horatio says that the lightning struck the barn and caused the electricity to go out for a moment.”

“Oh.”

“I don’t wish to alarm anyone, but I smell rats out and about,” said Horatio.

“Professor Rattiarty?” asked Bobby.

“What?” said Shane.

“Yes, but not alone.  He has the corpse of a poisoned rat with him.  Possibly Darktail Ralph.  He probably wants to tempt me to poison myself.”

“You won’t eat the dead rat, will you?”

“No!  Yuck!  I don’t want to eat any dead rats!” remarked Shane loudly and with disgust.

“I concur with your brother.  I will not be eating any rats tonight either.  Rattiarty is himself filled with rat poison.”

“What?  Rattiarty is poisoned but not dead?”

“What… what?” gasped Shane.  “Are you talking to Horatio again?”

“Rats often ingest poison slowly enough that, instead of slaying them, they become immune to it.”

“What are we gonna do if the rats are now immune to poison?”

“They are?  Bobby?  What is Horatio telling you?”

“What are you telling me, Horatio?”

“Professor Rattiarty is out there now in the storm.  He’s out of evil minions and wants to challenge me to a final battle.”

“Horatio says Professor Rattiarty wants a final showdown now.”

“The evil rat is out there in the storm?”

“He is.”

“Bobby, if you open the porch door for me, I must answer the rat’s challenge.”

“Now?  In the storm?”

“Yes.  If not now, then never.  My aged body is soon to give out, and I would not let that evil rat continue to threaten the Niland family that I have loved for so long, and who loves me in return.”

Bobby put Sherlock Holmes aside and rose from the rocking chair.

“Bobby, why are you crying?  What did the dog say?”

“Not now, Shane.”

Bobby moved to the porch door.  He opened the screen door inward and the storm door outward against the wind and the driving rain.

“Bobby!  What are you doing?”

Horatio leaped up and bolted out of door as a lightning strike illuminated everything with a burning blue-white light.

Bobby thought he saw the rat scampering across the farmyard as the light faded to blackness.

Shane, terrified, jumped out into the downpour.

“Horatio!  Come back, doggie!”

Bobby, too, went out in the rain.  Straining his eyes to try to find Horatio and the rat he was chasing.  He could see nothing.  A car out on the gravel country road had its brights on as it barrelled along towards Highway 69 going much faster than it should in the rain.

“Horatio!  Come back, it’s not safe!” Shane screamed, crying as he shouted it.

Grandpa Butch was suddenly directly behind Bobby.

“What’s going on?  Why are you boys out in the storm?”

“It’s Horatio and the rat.”

“Shane!  Come back to the house!”

“Grandpa, Horatio is out here in the rain somewhere!  Bobby let him out the front door!”

A car horn blared.  Brakes screeched.  Bobby thought he heard a sickening thump out there on the gravel road.  And the car skidded to a stop in the dark and the rain.

“Oh, god, no!  Shane!” 

Grandpa ran toward the car.  Bobby followed right behind.  As they drew near the stopped car, they heard Shane crying as if he were heartbroken.

“Shane!  Are you all right?”

“Grandpa, it’s Horatio.”

“Butch, I am sorry,” said Mr. Beetle Jones, out of the car and kneeling by the lump of soaked fur on the gravel road, illuminated by the headlights.

Bobby’s stomach quivered, leading to an uncontrolled string of chest-constricting sobs.

  “Ah, Horatio.  You have been a good and faithful friend,” said Butch Niland wearily as he kneeled down and petted the badly damaged body.

“Is he…?  Is he dead?”

“I’m sorry, boys.  He was an old dog.  It is a blessing that it was over quickly.  It means his life won’t end in prolonged suffering.”

“Bobby, how could you?” cried Shane.  “It’s your fault!  You and your dumb old imagination.  You shoulda never let him out of that door.” Bobby could take no more.  He lit out for the house as fast as he could run.  The lightning and thunder lent drama and illuminated his path.

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Living in the World I Once Drew

The Grain Mill

It is normal for the world we live in to inspire us to draw pictures of it. But architects do the opposite. They imagine a world we could live in, and then build it.

David and Me in Cotulla

Sometimes, like in the picture above, I draw real people in imaginary places. Other times I draw imaginary people and put them in real places.

Gyro and Billy on the planet Pan Galactica A

Sometimes I put imaginary people in imaginary places. (I photo-shopped this planet myself.)

Superchicken and Sherry before school

In fiction, I am re-casting my real past as something fictional, so the places I draw with words in descriptions need to be as real as my amber-colored memory can manage.

Valerie and her skateboard in front of the Congregational Church

When I use photos, though, I have to deal with the fact that over time, places change. The church does not look exactly like it did in the 1980s when this drawing is set.

Drawing things I once saw, and by “drawing” I mean “making pictures,” is how I recreate myself to give my own life meaning.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, collage, commentary, humor, illustrations, imagination, Paffooney, photo paffoonies

Pen and Ink and Sometimes… Pencil

Drawing with increasingly painful arthritic hands is still worth it. I suppose I should feel a little embarrassed about drawing so many young girls. Especially when I draw them naked.

But drawing someone who is naked, yet totally confident in their own skin and unafraid of the world they have bared themselves to, captures a feeling I have aspired to my whole life.

That is the purpose of art. To show the deepest insights life has forced upon the artist.

Not all the nudes I draw are female.

Sometimes it is the top of the head that is naked. That makes it easier to show what you are thinking. No hairy stuff between the viewer and the mind of the man.

Mere shapes and lines can make you feel something deeply.

There is a joy that can come from drawing something that begins with a spark from your secret heart.

But people will know at first sight what things you used to keep secret and to yourself.

And some people will hate you for it. They detect a little nudism or a little bit of gayness (and I am definitely not gay) and immediately default to hating your drawings, and, beyond that, hating you.

But I don’t accept hate. Because I don’t know hate. It is a stranger to me, from a country I have never been to. And I don’t recognize that stranger. But I don’t hate him. Because I don’t know hate.

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Horatio T. Dogg… Canto 13

Rat Poison

Bobby had always been amazed at the calm, easy-going way that Grandpa Butch handled a crisis.  He had examined Horatio himself when he had first learned of the eating of a part of Whitewhiskers Billy’s poisoned corpse.

He had then called the vet in Belle City.  They put a couple of soft but old blankets in the back of the red pickup and then driven Horatio to see his doggy-doctor while Bobby and Shane rode in the back to keep Horatio calm and safe.

The doctor had checked him over carefully, determining that the dog probably had not eaten enough of the poisoned rat to get any of the poison in his own system.  So, they gave Horatio some precautionary anti-coagulant injections, induced some vomiting, forced a bit of activated charcoal into him, and then, knowing Horatio would be better tended back home at the Niland farm than he ever would be in the Belle City animal hospital, sent him home.

“So, they’re sure that Horatio’s not gonna die?”  Shane asked on the ride back home.

“Pretty sure, yeah.  It’ll be our job to make sure he doesn’t eat any more poisoned rats.  And we have to tell Grandpa if he vomits again, or shows any more symptoms.”

“Yeah, that makin’ the dog vomit thing was sure icky.”

“But it got rid of any poison still in his stomach, Shane.”

Bobby put one hand on Shane’s shoulder as he continued to stroke the fur on Horatio’s neck with the other hand.  Shane had both hands deeply buried in Horatio’s brown-and-white fur coat.

“So, did Professor Rattiarty win this round?” Shane asked.

“No, he didn’t,” said Horatio confidently.  “He meant to kill me with this poison-eating ploy.  And we made him fail.”

“Horatio said he didn’t because Horatio is still alive.”

“Oh, that’s good.”

                                    *****

Rattiarty glared at Darktail Ralph.

“Don’t look at me.  It isn’t my fault the damned dog didn’t eat enough of Billy to do the job!”

“Well, we just have to try again.”

“Not that way.  There has to be some other plan.  Something that works better.”

“This plan will work if you eat more of the poison.  Saturate your system with toxins to make the dosage more lethal!”

“But there are only two of us left!  Why should I be the one to sacrifice myself?  Why don’t you let Horatio eat you?  You have a lot more poison in you than I have in me.”

“It may come to that if you fail too.”

Ralph snarled at the Professor.  “I won’t even try.  You can’t make me do it!”

“We shall see about that.”

Rattiarty made the first lunge, going for Ralph’s throat.

Ralph was a veteran rat-warrior, however, and still very quick to dodge.  He had the advantage of youth over Rattiarty, as the Professor was quite old for a rat.

As Rattiarty’s attempt at grabbing Ralph with teeth in his throat, the old rat’s superior strategy came into play.  The lunge having missed, the Professor snagged the right nostril of Ralph’s nose with one claw.  He ripped the skin all the way up to the Darktail’s right eye. 

Blood half-blinded Ralph.

Rattiarty built on that advantage to swing his thin body up onto Darktail Ralph’s back. Stabbing rat teeth descended on Ralph’s neck, gouging into his spinal cord and effectively paralysing him.  In mere moments more, the head was off, and Rattiarty was alone, but ready to drag the poison-filled body to some place where Horatio T. Dogg would see it and eat it.

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Telling Lies for Fun or Profit

When I was a boy in Iowa, living in a boring little farm town where nothing really ever happened, I made a bunch of stuff up in my stupid little head and had great fun pretending it was all real.

I loved stories about Flash Gordon, Tarzan, and Jungle Jim on the Saturday afternoon TV ;matinee on Channel 3 from Mason City.

So, naturally, I told my friends at school that I was secretly a boy from outer space pretending to be Mike Beyer as part of a super-secret mission from a Star Empire that nobody but me knew existed. I got really embarrassed one night at 4-H Fun Night in Eagle Grove when the girl I had a secret crush on confronted me about telling my friends that she was a Martian Princess trapped on Earth by agents from outer space. She wasn’t mad. She thought it was funny. But I turned shades of red and purple in the face that no one knew was humanly possible. I got both joy and agony out of being the sort of juvenile liar who is destined to grow up to be a story-teller.

But lies are not always harmless amusement. I am not saying I never told an evil, black lie. But I don’t think I ever did. At least, if I ever did, it was forgettable enough to be forgotten by me.

And the lie about the sexual assault I endured at ten was not really a lie. I didn’t tell anybody because he threatened to hurt me worse if I did. That scared me enough that it would be years before I even allowed myself to remember that it happened. And lies of omission are not regular lies. You are not telling somebody to believe something that isn’t true. You are simply not telling anyone about something you don’t want to be known.

To be honest with both you and myself, I never really ever got into trouble by telling a lie and getting caught for it. Most of the problems I ever had with girlfriends and eventually wife were created by telling the truth. That happens when you have two girlfriends at the same time and they really don’t like each other. It also happens when you decide things for yourself because you think it is the most sensible decision you can make, and when you tell your wife about it, you find out it is, in fact, the stupidest, most-wrongest idea any stupid person ever had… simply because husbands are always wrong. Funny, though, the decisions and ideas I carry out without telling her first always seem to work out fine. So, I must only be the world’s stupidest man if I tell her about it.

It almost seems like it is better to lie by omission than to tell the actual truth.

I am aware, however, that lies can be told in hurtful ways, fundamentally immoral and evil ways. It seems my email is full of scams and cons and lies daily. Not just African princes with money that desperately needs to pass through my bank account for some obscure reason, but Amazon gift cards for a thousand dollars that you just need to supply some information to have delivered to your bank account, and Norton security subscriptions that need to be renewed by credit card even though I stopped using Norton for that ten years ago.

And then there was an orange man who told us from before the first vote was cast that the 2020 election would be stolen by voter fraud. He whipped up an angry mob who took weapons and flags and anger into the US Capitol building so they could poop on stuff and kill some capitol policemen and try to get their hands on AOC because apparently they think she is a communist or something. That was an election lie that caused an insurrection. It caused people to get killed (on both sides, some battered policemen to commit suicide later, and Congress-people to tell more lies about terrorists merely being tourists. ‘

That’s a truly evil lie.

One of the things I appreciate most about nudists is the fact that naked people are not hiding anything.

So, I am able to identify being a liar as essentially a bad thing.

Of course, that is not going to prevent me from being the liar I have always been. Though, from now on I will be calling it being a fiction writer or a storyteller.

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I Love to Laugh

It began in childhood with the Red Skelton Show.    Every Wednesday night it a was a refuge for me.  And refuge was a critical idea for me.  I was a child hiding a terrible secret from the entire world.  At times I hated myself.  Twice as a teen I came very close to choosing suicide over life.  The person I most needed to hide from was myself.  And humor helped.  Red Skelton’s gentle humor helped me to not only escape from myself for a while, it taught me to laugh at my own foibles and not take things quite so seriously.

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In my college years I discovered humor in written form.  Mark Twain swiftly earned my utter devotion as I read not only Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, but Roughing It, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Pudd’nhead Wilson, The Mysterious Stranger, and The Autobiography of Mark Twain.  You know, there are a large number of things in Mark Twain’s humorous books that make you cry, that make you angry, and make you think deep thoughts.  I basically discovered that humor is a way that smart people choose to think of things which helps to keep you sane and basically un-suicided.

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A beautiful portrait by artist Emily Stepp

It is obvious that some people become very skilled at humor because they have used it all their lives to fight the darkness .  Robin Williams is only few years older than I am.  In many ways his life has paralleled my own (obviously minus the wealth and fame in my case… but what would’ve happened if Robin had become a school teacher?)  I have depended on Robin Williams’ movies to keep me going, giving me insights in how to talk to kids, how to be a parent, and how to empathize with others.  Of course, I haven’t yet taken some of his movie advice.  I never put on a mask and a dress to deceive my own children.  But only time will tell.

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I obsess about humor and how you create it.  I gorge on things like the works of Dave Barry.  Do you know who he is?  Florida newspaper columnist who writes books about everyday life and the fools who live it?  I have to do a post on Dave Barry, because he makes me laugh so hard that milk shoots out of my nose, sometimes when I am not even drinking milk… believe me, I don’t know how that works either.

 

 

I love to laugh.  It makes the world right again.  I have laughed an awful lot for almost an entire lifetime now.  I treasure all the funny people I have known.  And I need to continue to try to make people laugh up until the very end.  Because the world is too often not a funny place.  It can be full of badness and sadness and suffering.  And as Mark Twain  so aptly pointed out, “Against the assault of laughter… nothing can stand.”

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Filed under autobiography, clowns, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, writing humor

Shorthand Cartooning

I drew this picture back in my college days, the middle 1970’s. If you look at it closely, you will see my shorthand in action. The rose on the trellis is one. I have drawn a thousand roses since I did this one. It is the formalized set of lines, colors, and shading that I always put together whenever the thing I mean is “a ro se.”

You can see it in the orange bricks of the goldfish pond. Compare those to the gray foundation bricks. The same shorthand patterns. The brick grid in the background as well.

The shadow patterns of wrinkles in the boy’s clothing are also shorthand I almost always do when drawing from my imagination. The faces in profile, too.

There is a language here spoken silently in colored pencil. Complex ideas pictured in a simple colored-pencil picture-language.

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Continuing to Create Covers

I recently got criticism for the unprofessional ugliness of one of my novel covers. Of course, that was only a part of the review that generally hated everything about my book. Some people feel certain works of art have no right to even exist. So, for art day today, I will inflict my recent crimes against the world of novel art on all the regretful followers of this blog, and probably ward off future followers as well.

This novella is already published. The first one I showed you represents only a novel idea. No writing yet exists for The Necromancer’s Apprentice outside of my stupid head.

This one is a part of my endless AeroQuest rewrite. The ending of the book and a handful of existing chapters that need to be expanded exist already. It is still a project planned for the part of the future in which I am most likely already dead. The character of Spaceheart featured on this cover has not been written at all yet.

This book is only a few chapters along. It is a currently stalled work in progress.

This one was written as a Tuesday novel-writing project and presented chapter by chapter on this blog. This is an updated cover that came about once I learned how to better create a cover, a thing I am still learning about.

This last one is the cover for a novella I am currently presenting on Tuesdays. It is nearing completion.

So, here now for your consideration are the most recent cover efforts I have made. Be disgusted and horrified at your leisure. I can take criticism. And I know it is useful to be open to criticism. It does indeed make you reflect on what you are doing.

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Premonition

I actually saw an event happening in my little mind’s eye before it happened. And then it came true. My daughter and I went to Whataburger’s drive-thru last night to get a burger for her and a strawberry milkshake for me. I was driving as I have a license and my daughter does not. At one of the three red stoplights on the way there, I had a sudden vision of my milkshake being crushed and covering my shirt. In the vision I was tearing up from disaster recovery when I said, “I really wanted to drink that.”

So, I vowed to be a careful driver and not have a car accident anywhere along the drive, especially after I had purchased my milkshake.

I didn’t have the car accident. So, I thought it was just a nervous thought and not a prophecy. Then, walking from the car to the house, we walked through the shadowy back yard. Suddenly my right leg found a protruding part of the old bicycle sidecar that was sitting in the darkness. L landed on the milkshake I was carrying in my right hand. And, of course, tearing up from arthritis pain, I said, “I really wanted to drink that.”

Now, I can’t prove any of that, except showing you the crushed styrofoam milkshake cup, and by experience I know you are rolling your eyes and thinking about what a goofy man I really am.

But I have had an unignorably large number of these experiences in my life. There is no way to avoid these little experiences of the bizarre. But there is also no way to make use of them either.

The picture is the Wizard of Tellosia called Eli Tragedy and his two apprentices, Bob and Mickey the Wererat. It is a start of a cover illustration for a planned novella called The Necromancer’s Apprentice. Oh, and Eli is NOT the Necromancer in the title. He has premonitions too. But he can’t use them for anything either.

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Filed under autobiography, feeling sorry for myself, humor, magic, novel plans, Paffooney

What’s the Real Reason?

What’s the real reason behind the choices I make as an artist? For instance, why didn’t I do this photo of the artwork over again when the wind warped the bottom left corner. That answer is simple. I was taking this picture with natural sunlight. And once the wind started messing up my pictures, it only got worse. This was the first and best of five attempts. And, while it doesn’t show up here, I did several photo-shop manipulations of this picture, including shrinking the girl’s head. The original was done from a couple of models I got consent from when I worked at a daycare center in Iowa City where I went to college. The boy was eight years old in the summer of 1980. The girl was six, but I used a photo of a girl I went to second grade with, so the head was also eight. They represent David Copperfield and Emily, Pegotty’s niece from the Dickens novel. I had to read the book for my Master’s Exam which I took instead of writing a thesis. The picture is about how I saw myself and my world in that timeless novel.

This picture won a blue ribbon in the art competition at the Wright County Fair in 1979. It is a colored-pencil cartoon situation right out of a Jay Ward, Dudley Do-Right cartoon. I used a picture from a Canadian travel ad for the Mountie. The Indian sidekick is a modified version of Little Beaver, Red Ryder’s sidekick. The villain and the girl were basically Snidely Whiplash and Nell from the Dudley Do-Right cartoons, but made to look slightly more realistic… but only very slightly.

Actually, I lied a bit about the blue ribbon. I got the purple Grand Champion ribbon for this picture. I had entered it solely because two years before I saw how easy it would be to win a purple ribbon looking at the pictures that won it, and I wanted to win the purple ribbon. Sorry I lied, but the real reason for this picture is that I wanted to win that ribbon.

This painting, from the 1990s, was an attempt to make sofa art to sell in my sister-in-law’s home décor store. So, the real reason for this painting’s existence is greed. But since I ended up putting so many hours into it that I couldn’t justify selling it for twenty dollars in a store that went out of business because nobody ever shopped there, I got far more value out of it by keeping it and enjoying it myself. It was inspired by numerous paintings of Native Americans done by white people on display in Love’s Travel Stops across Texas in the 1990s.

This picture, “That Night in Saqqara,” is about youth versus age, thinking about death, immortality, and being afraid of any or all of it. The model for the Mummy is Boris Karloff who was so nice to pose for a production still from his movie that I could draw him long after he was actually dead. The boy was a seventh-grader in 1983 who did not actually pose for this without a shirt on or with an actual Ankh life-symbol around his neck. The Pharaoh in the tomb-mural in the background was from National Geographic Magazine, and I think was supposed to be Tutankhamun, but I could be wrong. I am old and I mix up lots of things I once clearly knew. That’s what mummified brains have to be like, apparently.

The reason I had to create this artwork was because I was increasingly falling victim to illness, especially arthritis, and I was constantly thinking about what it would be like to die alone, entombed in a two-bedroom apartment on North Stewart Street in Cotulla, Texas. This was well before I met and married my wife, who is now my wife of 25 years.

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