Category Archives: Paffooney
I have a confession. I am not faring well enough to continue putting out a page of Hidden Kingdom every Saturday. I know that may sadden one or two obsessive-compulsive fans of Prince Flute psychologically torturing his adventure-mates. But there it is. Arthritis and lack of funds slow me down.
I am not saying I am giving up trying to finish the graphic novel and publish it in some form before I croak (and I don’t mean in the way a bullfrog does it), but the schedule has to accommodate even more physical challenges.
I have to spend more time driving for Uber in return for slave wages and unfair criticisms from dyspeptic passengers.
My drawing hand is letting me down with weather-related stiffness and muscle spasms.
And there are other projects that have to get some priority too.
I am re-reading Recipes for Gingerbread Children, marking up my personal copy for changes I need to make, so that I can re-publish it in better form before I try to seriously promote the hell out of it (too much Hell in anything is not a good idea, so I have to get some of it out).
I am also nearing the end of finishing When the Captain Came Calling. Soon I must think about publishing that book as well. It is turning out better than I thought it was going to be.
And I know that means leaving the poor Rascal naked in the middle of the story, but you never know, he might enjoy becoming a nudist.
I will get back to cartoon page-making as soon as possible. But for now, we are on hold.
I have started re-reading my werewolf stories again as I intend to promote the heck out of the two books pictured here in the rest of 2019.
Both books are intertwined even though they are both stand-alone novels with different genre ties and different themes. They share the same characters, many of the same scenes (though seen from different viewpoints in each novel), many of the same plot points, and the same werewolf. I like to think that reading both books together makes a better, more nuanced story as a two-book whole. But each book is also a whole in itself. And you can read them in either order.
I started by re-reading Recipes for Gingerbread Children. This book is basically a fairy-tale story-collection contrasted with a Holocaust survivor’s story. It is about how a storyteller manages to shape the world around her to help herself and others make sense out of a cruel world filled with evil and betrayal.
The Baby Werewolf is a Gothic horror tale where the real monster is hidden by deeply buried secrets, and lies have to be pierced to protect the innocent. I will re-read and promote this book second. I love both of these books with a paternal sort of overlooking-the-warts-and-birth-defects love.
So, I have a plan. A hopelessly pie-in-the-sky plan. But a plan. And hopefully at least some part of the plan will work.
Drawing nudes is a risky business. People judge you more harshly when you draw a nude and don’t explain the context. What a pervert you must be. They forgive you a little when you explain that you are an artist and once you took an anatomy drawing class in college where you were drawing from actual nude models. But understand, artists probably take classes like that because they are perverts to begin with.
And you have the added complication of being a victim of sexual assault as a child, so you have a PTSD-sort-of fear of nudity and physical contact while at the same time having all the natural urges that flesh is heir to.
The nude above was drawn actually from a photograph, a Polaroid. The griffon (who represents the fear in your PTSD-inspired dreams) did not want to pose nude in real life. So, you were given a photograph in which she was actually holding on to her boyfriend’s shoulder. Oh, wait! You mean “he” not “she”. The griffon was a boy. But she smiled when she saw the picture. And she asked why there was an eagle in it.
“But that’s not an eagle, it’s a griffon,” you said. “It represents being afraid of being nude.”
Obviously you did not give her the version of the picture with the “eagle” in it. She was happier with the nude you did give her, though it wasn’t drawn as well as this one.
And you are always a little leery of posting nudes you have drawn over the years on your blog, but somehow they get more views than anything else you post, and while you have to wonder why these pictures are so popular among judgmental people who have told you that you are probably a pervert, you secretly know the real reason.
This picture of Karla gets lots of views. You have posted it three or four times before. (Of course, that is not Her real name.)
It is kinda the thing that started the college nude drawings. She was your roommate’s girlfriend, and she was looking at your drawings because Bill told her about your artworks and she was curious. She challenged you to draw her. It was the first nude model you ever drew outside of class. Bob sat in the room with the two of you and watched you draw. (Oh, wait. You called him Bill before. Change that.
Bob Bill. There, that’s better.) You drew in pencil.
You did two versions of it. The pen and ink that you drew of it in 1996 was made from the one that you kept.
If you had never done that picture of Karla, the one of the griffon wouldn’t exist either. She had to go and show her picture off to her friends. After all the great cartoons you drew over the years, you might know that the biggest reputation you ever got as an artist came about because of a pencil drawing of a smiley nude girl. And she had a big mouth… both figuratively and literally. But she was nice, and you couldn’t be mad at her. She and
Bob Bill got married, and she probably still has that picture in its little frame somewhere in her house.
There was a time in my life, in fact, for a majority of my life, that all these things were pretty much secrets that I kept to myself. I didn’t show the nude pictures to others. I kept them in a portfolio in a closet. I never would’ve admitted to being a nudist at heart either. Or anything about being assaulted as a boy. Or told anyone about any of it in a blog post like this. I can only do that now that I am old and know that none of my sins are really that awful and need to be kept secret. There is a certain beauty in that. You don’t even really need to keep doing it in second person point of view, confusing the audience into thinking it’s about them and not about you. Sorry about the meta-messaging. I just find it funny that I can be completely open at the end of the essay of life, and no longer feel the need to hide all the things that we hide under our clothing. Sometimes there is beauty to be found in the depths of a risky picture.
You have to wonder when you pay attention to what people are actually doing in this world, if the human race needs to be exterminated once and for all.
I know that as jokes go, that one is a little bit dark. But as we may actually be faced with a tipping point into the funnel of human extinction in only twelve years, it seems to me we are more likely to go down that awful rabbit hole at the bottom of the funnel than not. And that is not a very nice flesh-eating bunny we are going to find in that particular hole.
Remember, please, that I am, in fact, a pessimist, both temperamentally and philosophically. I look at the worst that could happen. But I am chagrined to see that people are actively either ignoring the climate change problem, or working to bring it on even faster by deregulating polluters in the name of making higher short-term profits. So, when the Midwest becomes an inland sea, the oceans rise to make New York and Miami into underwater bubble cities like the Gungans have, and we will have to learn to eat dirt in underground tunnels as drought and heat eliminate farming completely, we may very probably be getting what we deserve.
Obviously we are not taking things seriously enough when we continue to let the criminal orange monkey sit in the White House in pile of his own political poo and tell us things like “The Green New Deal is the radical Democrats’ attempt to turn us into a socialist country!” He doesn’t even understand that the Green New Deal is merely a strongly-worded resolution not to die in a blaze of heat generated by greenhouse gasses, and to be willing to do whatever it takes or pay whatever it costs to stay alive.
Maybe the whole question shouldn’t matter to me. I will, after all, probably be dead before the end comes for the rest of humanity. Like the Koch Brothers, I probably don’t need to fear the consequences of what industrialists like the Koch Brothers have done to our world just so they can have more money to stuff under their silk cushions to sit on.
But I do care about the world I will be leaving behind. I have many children in it. Three of my own and over two thousand that were mine for a school year or two or three to nurture and teach and shape into real human beings. I will be leaving behind a literate culture that I love and have tried desperately to add to. The worst part of that is all the wonderful books that I will never get the chance to read and own and share with others.
But there is an answer.
If we can laugh about it as the ship is sinking, we will be alright, no matter what the outcome.
Canto Twenty-Four – Squirrel Time
It was Skaggs the cat that started the action. He stared at Valerie-squirrel with evil, mismatched eyes. He licked his evil cat-lips. Then he launched himself into the air, intending to come down on top of Valerie-squirrel’s head.
Pidney-squirrel was having none of that. Faster than the eye could follow, he dashed over to defend Valerie-squirrel, latching on to Skaggs the cat’s left rear haunch with his sharp squirrel teeth.
“Yeeowehrrrrr-owwwerrrr!” screamed the cat as he tumbled over his wound into a very un-catlike pile of Pidney-squirrel-and-Skaggs-the-cat-awkwardness all wrapped up in a fight to the death.
“Chreee-chit-it-it-it!” cried Valerie, trying hard to say, “I’ll help you, Pidney-squirrel!” but not managing it very well. She caught the tip of the cat’s tail in her mouth and bit hard with her own sharp squirrel teeth.
“Have a care, cat!” said Oojie. “You can eat the boy-squirrel, but not the girl-squirrels. I need them alive!”
The enraged cat was, paws and claws, splayed out in agony in four directions at once, spitting his fury and hatred at the squirrels who still had him impaled with buck teeth.
“You will die, beautiful one!” swore Skaggs in the mental language Valerie-squirrel had come to think of as cat language. “I don’t care what the juju thing says. He is only someone’s servant! Not the witch-doctor himself.”
Mary-squirrel pulled at Pidney and made him let go of Skaggs’ hind leg. She dragged him over to the furnace fixture and up a pipe that was wrapped with black tape where the squirrels could get a decent claw- hold. Both Pidney and Mary squirrels shot up the pipe and out the open basement window above it.
Valerie-squirrel realized too late that she should’ve let go and followed them up the pipe. The evil cat whipped his injured tail around and launched her toward the stairs. Mary Philips’ father always kept a waste basket at the foot of the stairs, and Valerie-squirrel, head over tail, spiraled into it.
“Get outside and get the other squirrels!” Skaggs commanded the other cats. “This one is all mine!”
The other cats disappeared up the cellar stairs and out of the house.
“You cannot kill the girl squirrel!” commanded Oojie with a shout.
“Spare me, little familiar… for that’s what you are, only the witch’s familiar, not the actual witch. Magic flows through you, but it does not come from you. You can’t control me.”
Valerie-squirrel knew she was in deep and dire distress, so she felt around in the darkness for possible weapons. But how does one wield a weapon with squirrel paws? And then she realized that the waste basket was made of wicker. She quickly bit into the soft woody fibers with her amazingly sharp incisors.
“I am going to report you to the master!” Oojie said to the cat.
“Go ahead. I will have a nice squirrel lunch while you get him. I have her trapped in this human trash thingy.”
The hole was big enough to squirm through. And with luck, there was a mouse hole in the basement brickwork right near where she tumbled out on the dark floor. She wriggled through the opening and into the hollow tunnel that was on the inside of the cinderblock wall. She could see light somewhere far above.
“Where are you, beautiful one? How can you be hiding under this paper and string and old apple cores?”
Valerie-squirrel heard the basket being batted away and new light flooded in the door of the mouse hole.
“Aha! So that is where you have gone.”
The cat’s paw came reaching in through the hole, the only part of Skaggs that actually fit. He nearly got a hold on Valerie-squirrel’s bushy blond tail. She wasn’t used to having a tail the way a real squirrel would be. She tucked it up underneath herself just in time. Then she began to climb up through the brickwork. It was a long, hard climb basically going straight up, but she could manage with four splayed squirrel legs.
“You haven’t escaped me yet!” cried the cat. “I will have you still.” Her tiny heart beat even faster as she climbed.
Wizards do magical spells. It kinda goes without saying. But to do magical spells, you have to know how the magic works… and why.
The secret is in knowing what the word “magic” actually means. It is not supernatural power, nor the creation of something out of nothing. It is entirely the act of uncovering and understanding the underlying truth, the actual science that most people don’t yet comprehend that underpins the thing you are trying to accomplish. Jonas Salk was a wizard. His polio vaccine was a successful magical potion. But magic can be evil too. Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer were wizards. And the atom bomb was an act of necromantic evil.
So, being a wizard, I have learned lessons over a lifetime that uncovered for me the secrets of practical interpersonal magic. Being a teacher has taught me far more than I taught to others.
So let me share with you some of my hard-won practical magic.
In a room full of rowdy children, most of whom are not minding any of the teacher’s directions, you can get their attention easily by shouting, “What the poop is going on here?” with the biggest evil grin on your face that you can manage. They will immediately quiet down like magic and look at you. Some will be wondering if their teacher is having a fatal stroke. Some will be wondering what punishments their behavior has earned as indicated by your evil grin (and here it should be noted, their little imaginations will cook up something much worse and much scarier than anything you could’ve thought of to unwisely threaten them with. A few will begin recording you with their cell phone cameras in hopes of future behavior they can post online and get you fired with. And the rest will laugh at the word “poop” and forget why they were acting out. At that point, with their full attention, you can ask them to sit down and look at page 32, and, not knowing what else to do, they will probably do it.
Here are some other rules of practical magic that apply to the wizarding arts of being a public school teacher;
- Violence is never the answer. Change their actions and reactions by making them laugh, making them cry, or making them think about something else entirely. The last thing you would ever want to do is hit them, even if they hit you first.
- Anything they can be forced to repeat eight times in eight different ways is something that will be fixed in their memory for more than just the duration of a class period. It moves things into their long-term memory, and that is itself a very magical thing.
- Students laugh when you surprise them or present them with the absurd. Tell them they should imagine themselves as pigeons who have to act out Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. What costumes will they wear, and why? What stage directions are necessary to add to the play that are unique to pigeons, and how will they word them? How does pigeon Mercutio go about his death soliloquy when stabbed by pigeon Tibault? Will he have to say, “Look for me tomorrow and you will find me a very grave pigeon?” By the end of the lesson they will have learned more about this play they are supposed to learn about as ninth graders than they ever would have otherwise.
Being able to do any of those things is actually a manifestation of magical power, and only producible by a wizard. The simple fact is, every good teacher is a wizard.