Category Archives: Paffooney

Pencil, Pencil, Pen, Pen, Pen…

Yes, students actually eat pencils in class.

My daughter forgot her pencil case in school over the weekend. Now, for normal students, this is no really big deal. But for the Princess, like it is for me as an amateur artist, the pencil case, with her colored pencils and pens in it, is one of the most necessary things for life.

Of course, we did not have an opportunity to go back to school for her pencils and pens. So, panicky, she texted her teacher whereupon the pencil case in question was found and put aside for her until early this morning. She then stole my pens and pencils for the weekend, depriving me and causing me to be the one with the anxiety disorder and heart palpitations.

Of course, pens and pencils were always a critical issue when I was a teacher for 31 years, plus two years as a substitute teacher. Unlike the Princess, students in an English classroom NEVER have a pen or a pencil to write with. I swear, I have seen them gnaw pencils to pieces like a hungry beaver or termite. And they chew on pens to the point that there is a sudden squishy noise in their mouth and they become members of the Black Teeth Club. (Or Blue Teeth Club for the more choosy sort of student.)

A piece of an actual classroom rules poster.

Having students in your class who actually have pencils and pens to learn with is a career-long battle. I tried providing pens for a quarter. I would by cheap bags of pens, ten for two dollars, and sell them to panicky writers and test takers with a quarter (and secretly free to some who really don’t have a quarter). I only used the pen money to buy more cheap pens. But that ran afoul of principals and school rules. A teacher can’t sell things in class without the district accountant giving approval and keeping sales tax records. Yes, the pencil pushers force teachers to give pens, pencils, and paper away for free. I finally settled -on a be-penning process of picking up leftover un-popped pens, half-eaten pencils, and the rare untouched writing instrument apparently lost the very instant the student sat down in his or her desk. These I would issue to moaning pencil-free students until the supply ran out (which it rarely ever did) at no cost to myself.

I also tried telling them repeatedly that they had to have a writing instrument, or they needed to beg, borrow, or steal one. And if they couldn’t do that, I’d tell them, “Well, you could always prick your finger and write in blood.” That was a joke I totally stopped using the instant a student did exactly what I said. A literalist, that one. And it turns out you can’t read an essay that a student writes in actual blood.

But, anyway… My daughter is safely in school now and no longer panicking because she has her precious pencil case back in her possession. And she probably will not ever make that same mistake again. (And she will probably not return my pens and pencils either.)

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Filed under humor, kids, Paffooney, pen and ink, self pity, teaching, Uncategorized

Naked Honesty

Life is very complex, an endless puzzle that never seems to have all the pieces made to fit properly.

My writing life has not been going well of late. A book reviewer from the Pubby book-review exchange recently gave me a review with nothing but very positive words for the book Cissy Moonskipper’s Travels, and yet, he only gave it three stars out of five. It seems dishonest. Four stars mean you liked the book. Three is a tepid response. I would never give a three without explaining why I didn’t like the book. I prefer honest reviews to weaselly wording and tepid responses. I’d rather be told why it is not good enough flat out. I suppose, as someone who dabbles with being a nudist, I would prefer naked honesty.

This picture is naked honesty, not porn. No one is having sex. No one is sexualized. Both of them are nude.

Naked honesty to me is a metaphor. An important metaphor. It stands for not hiding anything, whether it is something embarrassing, something to be ashamed of, something to be proud of, or something you hide because society tells you that you must. Just like when you are standing in front of a crowd of people, some who know you, and some who don’t, and you are completely naked so that they can see everything. Warts, tattoos, scars where you burned yourself on purpose, bulges of fat, birthmarks… everything. That happens in real life in gym dressing rooms, public showers in campgrounds, and other situations like that that people who aren’t me take for granted as being innocent.

I use naked honesty in this blog a lot. Also in my novels, and in my artwork. As a survivor of a sexual assault when I was ten, committed by an older teenage boy, dealing with naked truth is a critical thing to me that I need to talk about. I found comfort and healing in contact and conversation with nudists. I was deprived of the ability to be comfortably naked from the age of ten to the age of 35. That deprivation interfered with being in the shower room with other boys during P.E. classes and after sports practice and competitions. It also interfered with my ability to befriend others and confidently talk to girls. I had to struggle to identify myself as a heterosexual male. I narrowly avoided meltdowns and anxiety attacks in numerous situations like those seemingly innocent ones I was just now describing. It made me a bit of a social outcast. And it definitely interfered with my love life until I was 38 and finally able to marry.

So, basically, I healed myself with explorations of nudity. I thought about it. I found ways to expose myself to it without risking any crimes or mortal sins. I associated to a limited degree with naked people. (I had a nudist roommate for a year in grad school. And a former girlfriend was a big help in that her sister lived in a clothing-optional apartment complex in Austin, Texas. I never was myself naked when she dragged me there. But I learned a lot about nudists from nudists there.) I began drawing nudes.

You may have noticed that my drawings of nudes tend to be either children or child-like young adults. I can assure you that they are never intended to be any sort of child pornography. They are innocent nudes. I never drew a child nude from a live model without clothing. I have done portraits of nude children from photographs, but only with parental consent forms somewhere in the process. Live nude models I have drawn were consenting adults posing in an art class, except for one case when the request was from the boyfriend and the young lady herself while she was doing the posing. That was awkward, but that boyfriend was my efficiency-apartment roommate who had previously explained to me about being a nudist. I never drew him, but he was naked most of the time within the apartment. I also drew nudes from photographs in nudist publications. I don’t draw genitals very often, and never in a way that is inviting the viewer to think “pornography.” I can draw adult nudes, and have done so, but it is less comfortable because of the sexual aspect and how it tugs at that old traumatic fear.

It is psychologically very freeing to be socially nude around other nudists who simply desire that same naked honesty from me that they are presenting me with. Nudists look at each other eye to eye rather than staring in ways that are only appropriate in certain more private situations. It is not about sex. And lewd behavior in public is always against the rules in the places and situations that nudists share together. After a while, seeing naked people around you seems perfectly normal.

This is a copy of the portrait of my roommate’s girlfriend.

There is also a downside. If you spend all your time dealing in naked honesty, you become overexposed… even if you never show off your own penis, and nobody ever seems to be paying attention to anything you write, draw, say, and do. Your deepest, darkest secrets are out there. Everything is exposed. If you read this far in this essay, you already know my darkest secret… being the victim of a sexual assault.

I worry that someone will read my work and put together who he was, this person who did a horrible thing to me and made me fear that he would kill me if I told anybody what he did to me. And his life ended a few years ago, and I was finally free to talk about it and begin to make peace with it… and forgive him. (not for him… I forgive him for me… I need to be able to get past it… and be naked without fearing what his ghost will do.) And I hope no one ever learns his name. I have forgiven him. And his family doesn’t deserve to have to know about this thing he did. As far as I know, I am his only victim. He has a good family, that I know don’t deserve to be linked to something he only made the mistake of doing once while he was alive. No matter how terrible that all may seem to you.

I am not a pedophile, even though I am a Democrat because of how I vote (and I won’t believe that Joe Biden is one either, no matter what they say on FOX News.) I am in no danger of becoming one (I was never one when I was a teacher with access to underage people who looked up to me, and I certainly can’t be one now as a retired teacher without even any grandchildren around me.) So, my obsession with nudism and innocent nudity really should not be a problem.

But I know I have been focussing on it too much. Other writers have stopped following me on Facebook and Twitter once they discovered I was associated with nudists and nudism. I have gotten criticism on some of my novels because of nudity in the story and nudist characters. But that doesn’t really represent even half of my books. I do write about many other themes as well. Still, viewership by potential readers is down on WordPress since they removed ads from my blog for too much adult content. I need to focus on other things more to get a healthier balance.

But I still stand before you metaphorically naked. What you see is what I am. I say what I have to say in all honesty, naked honesty. I conceal no secrets from anyone that aren’t secrets that belong to someone else to tell. And it is freeing, this kind of truth. It makes you naked. But it feels right.

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Filed under artwork, drawing, feeling sorry for myself, Liberal ideas, nudes, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Sunday Silly Artistical Posts

I like to dig through old piles of artwork I have done to re-purpose things and mash things together to make weird art salad.

Xeribeth the Sorceress and her parrot Herkimer

I used to play a Dungeons-and-Dragons-like game called Talislanta with groups of adolescent boys, most of whom had previously been my students in middle school. It was a weird world where weird things made artistical challenges for me that taught me to be a better and more imaginative artist.

Xeribeth was a member of an almost-human race that had yellow skin and wore colorful face tattoos. She also had to be somewhat alluring to trick adolescent boys into undertaking dangerous and possibly suicidal adventures (meaning characters who only lived on paper might die and have to be re-rolled with dungeon dice.)

Zoric, being a green Cymrillian wizard, gave me numerous opportunities to create Kermit-the-frog-colored portraits. And he was a player character, so his greed and penchant for unwise actions decided on in the heat of battle (like turning himself into a fish-man while adventuring in the waterless desert) didn’t come from me.

Playing those games gave me training as a story-teller as well.

My efforts to see color with gradually worsening color-blindness led me to create eye-bashing color compositions that attempt to portray realistically things and feelings that can’t possibly be physically real. Thus I gradually became, over time, a surrealist (a juxtaposer of unlike and jarring things to deliver a visionary picture of reality) (How’s that for surrealistic gobbeldegook in definition form?)

Rabbit castles are the obvious answer

I often solve the problems of my life by drawing something and making cartoonish comments with serious consequences.

Little people and Slow Ones like us have different problems but share the same world.

Ultimately, it boils down to the fact that the world on the inside of me is decidedly different than the world on the outside of me. But I have to live in both. And I can do that by drawing my colored-pencil Paffooney stuff, posting it, and writing about it on a silly Sunday.

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Picking Pictures Pusillanimously

Does it take courage to post a picture like this? Or is it cutsie-smoochy safe for work? She almost has an indication of breasts. Is that not evil? Maybe I shouldn’t post this.
Is this picture too violent? If you are not looking closely, the rat might seem to be inside the dog’s bloody red mouth, instead of riding on his back as he gives a stupid, rat-friend grin.
And is this picture racist? Why is she blue? is that some goofy type of BLM statement about not caring what color a person is? Or is it intended to belittle Space Smurfs?
Should I be ashamed of posting this portrait? The girl is actually a transgender character. That’s frowned upon where I live. Should I be trying harder to avoid frowny people commenting on my posted pictures?
This portrait could be ageist! Am I making fun of old white guys in farmer’s overalls? Is it supposed to be a joke about conservative old coots?
This portrait looks demonic! His eyes follow you no matter where you stand or flee to. One should never post such a picture in the Bible Belt.
So, I guess I’m in big trouble posting this. Just because I think it is innocent nudity and basically beautiful does not mean that it is not offensive and wrong in the eyes of some viewers. And some will seek it out for entirely the wrong reason. So, should I be pusillanimously afraid to include it? Probably.
I guess Mickey is not pusillanimous. But then, did you even know what it means?

Definition of pusillanimous

lacking courage and resolutionmarked by contemptible timidity

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Spinning Wheels of Thought

Picture borrowed from; https://www.townsends.us/products/colonial-spinning-wheel-sp378-p-874

I start today with nothing in my head to write about. I guess I can say that with regularity most days of the writing week. Sundays in particular are filled with no useful ideas of any kind. But I have a certain talent for spinning. As Rumpelstiltskin had a talent for spinning straw into gold, I take the simple threads of ideas leaking out of my ears and spin them into yarns that become whole stories-full of something to say. And it is not something out of mere nothing. There is magic in spinning wheels. They take something ordinary and incomplete, and turn it into substantial threads useful for further weaving.

Of course the spinning wheel is just a metaphor here for the craft of writing. And it is a craft, requiring definable skills that go well beyond merely knowing some words and how to spell them.

My own original illustration.

The first skill is, of course, idea generation. You have to come up with the central notion to concoct the potion. In this case today, that is, of course, the metaphor of using the writing process as a spinning wheel for turning straw into gold. But once that is wound onto the spindle, you begin to spin yarn only if you follow the correct procedure. Structuring the essay or story is the next critical skill.

Since this is a didactic essay about the writing process I opened it with a strong lead that defined the purpose of the essay and explained the central metaphor. Then I proceeded to break down the basic skills for writing an essay with orderly explanations of them, laced with distracting images to keep you from dying of boredom while reading this, a very real danger that may actually have killed a large number of the students in my writing classes over the years (although they still appeared to be alive on the outside).

My mother’s spinning wheel, used to make threads for use in porcelain doll-making, and as a prop for displaying dolls.

As I proceed through the essay, I am stopping constantly to revise and edit, makeing sure to correct errors and grammar, as well as spending fifteen minutes searching for the picture of my mother’s spinning wheel used directly above. Notice, too, I deliberately left the spelling-error typo of “making” to emphasize the idea that revising and proof-reading are two different things that often occur at the same time, though they are very different skills.

And as I reach the conclusion, it may be obvious that my spinning wheel of thought today spun out some pure gold. Or, more likely, it may have spun out useless and boring drehk. Or boring average stuff. But I used the spinning wheel correctly regardless of your opinion of the sparkle of my gold.

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How to Talk to Real People

While visiting in Iowa, I ran into an old high school friend at a local eatery. I remember how in high school and junior high, I played basketball on the same team with him, I listened to his exaggerations about a probably non-existent sex life, and helped him on one or two occasions to get answers on Math homework (even then the teacher in me wouldn’t let me just give him the answers, I always made him work out the answers step by step).

Now he is a judgmental and basically crabby old coot. He is a Trump supporter, hater of immigrants who take American jobs, and an unpleasant arguer of politics. And the sorest point about his intractable coot-i-ness is the fact that, as a classmate, he is the same age as me and I am, therefore, just as intractably coot-y as he is.

So, how exactly do you talk to a mean old coot?

Well, you have to begin by realizing that it is not like the dialogue in a novel or TV show. This is a real person I was talking to. So, I had to proceed by accepting that he thinks I am an idiot and anything I say and think is wrong. Not merely wrong, but “That’s un-American and will lead to a communist takeover of our beloved country!” sort of wrong. I can then laugh off numerous Neo-Nazi assertions by him, make snarky comments about his praises for the criminal president, and generally get along with him like old friends almost always do. I play my part just as furiously as he plays his, and we both enjoy the heck out of it.

We are both of us crazy old coots, likely to say just about anything to get the other one’s goat. Getting goats is apparently vital to the conversations of real people. But we have more in common than we have as differences. We don’t keep score in our world-shaking debates, nor do we count how many goats we get. And that is how you talk to real people.

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How to Read a Poem

Poetry is… well… whatever the Poet says it is.

If you know he or she is a stinky poet… hold your nose… and carefully read for anything worthy, and if you find nothing worth standing the smell of… then throw it in the trash before you let go of your nose so you never get a whiff of stinky poetry… that stuff can kill you.

If you know the poet is an average poet… hold your nose… just in case… and look to see if the ideas are crisp and fresh, bought in a farmer’s market rather than Walmart, and grown organically…  not factory farmed.  You should also check the quality of the protein versus the power of the carbohydrates… you don’t need too many calories in your poetry.  Then let go of your nose…  Why were you holding your nose anyway?  Olfactory poetry is only for dogs and bad poets.  Appreciate the nutrients in the verse, and ignore the effects of starvation that will set in if you never read any poetry above this level.  The Rod McKuen and Joyce Kilmer level… well… if you only read this stuff, you deserve to poetically starve.

But then there is the  Shakespeare-Sonnet level of poetry.  No, get your hand away from your nose… this is not stinky-poet territory now.  You are up in the stratosphere where if you get too close to the sun, you will get a Robert Browning, and if you swing too low over the Arctic, you may get a bit of Robert Frost.  William Butler Yeats… Theodore Roethke… William Blake…  John Keats… Emily Dickinson…  they all will put wrinkles in your brain and silver streaks in your hair.  You will find things you never thought about before… but wanted to know… needed to know… dared to know…  but never before found anywhere else… because that’s what poetry is for… you read it… and understand a bit of the mind of God.

But finally, there is the unknown level of poetry.  You go in with eyes wide open… not knowing if you will encounter the Goddess Aphrodite… or a monster… whether you will find love at first sight… or be hideously devoured by something wicked.  This is where the horrible poetry of Mickey is most likely to abide (because unlike you, most people are wise enough not to read him,) and where the greatest poetry that Mickey has not yet read resides.  Definitely enter here at your own risk.

So, that is the way Mickey recommends you read poetry.  Aware that you may encounter rapturous particles of the heavenly ether, or die a death by dreadful doggerel verse.

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The Education of Poppensparkle… Canto 5

Canto 5 – Across the Open Arcanum

The next morning Tod and Flute invited the girls to look at the map with them.

“We are here, just south of the Troll Bridge and about to enter into the beanfields of the Arcanum, west of the  Slow-One Fortress called Duffy’s Farm.”  Flute pointed to the spot in the center of the map.  “We have to cross the bridge, and cut across an expanse patrolled by heroes from Demarceaux’s Hero Tree, but controlled mostly by the Unseely Court, surfacing from Castle Stoor over here.  Gobbuluns like Wartoles and Cyclopes mostly, but a few other wicked creatures as well.”

Looking across the gravel road of the Slow Ones, they could see the old bridge of metal and wood and gravel.

“There are Trolls beneath?” asked Glittershine.

“Possibly, but more likely they are sleeping during the day and will not bother us in the sunshine far above their sleeping holes under the bridge,” said Tod.

“Perhaps we should go quickly now, as the sun is bright this morning,” suggested Poppy, not wanting to risk encountering Trolls.  She had hated serving them green slime in the kitchens of Mortimer’s Mudwallow, and here there was no powerful necromancer to stop them from eating a butterfly child they happened to catch out in the open.

As the roosters crossed the road, suddenly the smell of rotten, moldy flesh told the group of Fairies that Trolls were on the bridge.

“Tod!  Spur your rooster and make it run!” shouted Flute.

“I see the trolls.  They are lying dead in the road, slowly turning into stones in the sunlight.”  Tod pulled up to a stop beside one of the three Troll bodies.  Poppy could actually hear the Troll-flesh crackling as the sunshine cooked it and made it into rock.

Flute pulled his rooster up too, and he and Glitter dismounted to look at the bodies.

“These bodies show signs of sword cuts,” said Glittershine.

“Yes.  A Fairy sword.  Possibly the Fyrehandle, the great sword of Lord Lancelot himself,” said Flute.

“Who is Lord Lancelot?” asked Poppy.

“He’s a great Fairy war hero, a Storybook Fairy since the time of the Slow One’s King Arthur,” said Tod.

“The son of the immortal Lady of the Lake,” added Glittershine.

But before they could do anything more, one more Troll was lumbering towards them, smoking from Troll sunburn and moaning in an angry way.

“This one is yours, Poppensparkle,” said Flute.  “Use your polymorphing spells to turn the creature into stone.  Put it out of its misery.”

Poppy could call the spell instantly to mind.  But when she pointed her power finger at the Troll, her stomach began to churn, and she couldn’t make the spell kill the Troll.  Not after she had seen the Necromancer kill Fairies and laugh about it afterwards.  The White Stag had taken those memories away from her.  But the situation now brought it back.

“I… I can’t do it!”

“You have to, Poppy!  Before it reaches us!” shouted Tod.

She tried to control the swirling sickness in her guts as she wrestled with killing the poor thing.  And then the spell came out of her pointer finger in a cloud of orange smoke and enveloped the Troll.  And that was somehow not right… because the smoke was supposed to be smoky-colored, not orange.

“Oh, no…”  She fell to her knees and emptied the contents of her stomach on the gravel road.

The cloud dissipated, leaving behind a… small sylph boy?  He was naked and crying.  His brown skin still was dripping with the leavings of the magical orange smoke.

Flute approached the weeping child.  “Who are you?  Did the Troll eat you, or something?”

The child looked at him with frightened eyes.

“Am no Trollz food!   Am Schtinker!  Am baby Trollz!”

“Whoa!  Poppy?  Did you turn the Troll into this sylph boy?”  Flute gasped.

“I couldn’t turn him to stone.  That would be killing…”  Poppy had to stop there and throw up some more.

“It’s alright, Poppy.  This Schtinker is still a Troll on the inside, but the new form is far less dangerous,” said Tod.

“Danger-us?  Schtinker no know danger-us.  Am no killah!  Dat nite be doe killah!”

“What did he say?” asked Poppy.

“So, what do we do with him?  If we just leave him here he will go back to the Unseely Court and be evil.” Tod shook his head sadly as he said it.

“We could kill him here and save him the trouble,” said Flute.

“No!  He’s just a child!” said Poppy, horrified at the callousness.

“We can take him with us and teach him to be good,” offered Glittershine.

“That would be too much work,” said Flute.

“How do we decide?  Take a vote?” asked Tod.

“We let Poppy decide.  She created him, he’s her child, her responsibility,” said Flute, looking her in the eyes.

“Well, that’s it then.  We take him.  I will take care of him.”

Flute looked at her with eyes she thought showed great intelligence.  And then he smiled.

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Mickian Art…70’s Style

Most of my novel stories have lived in my head since the 1970’s. I began recording the ideas in a notebook that I called the libretto. I drew illustrations to solidify the characters and some of the plot elements in my mind. But the basic natures of the characters and the style of my artwork grew from these original artistical notations.

I got better at art over time. And the characters benefited from my teaching experience in that I was able to depict numerous characters with nuances and details gained from students and other people I hadn’t met yet when I drew these pictures. Dorin Dobbs, for instance, is based in large part on my eldest son, who wouldn’t be born for another 18 years when I drew these pictures (He’s the yellow-haired boy in both of the first two pictures.)

Francois, the singing sad clown from my book Sing Sad Songs, is based on a student from the 80’s who was actually Spanish speaking and of Mexican-American descent.

I drew this picture of him in 1976.

I taught the boy in 1983.

I wrote and published the book in 2018.

The inter-dimensional traveler, the Man-Cat, is an idea from a story I have not written yet, and probably never will.

Disney-Michael Stewart and his gang of Milk-Lovers is another story I haven’t written yet, and though more likely, is still probably a novel I will never get to.

Invisible Captain Dettbarn and Francois ended up in separate stories from this picture. The other three boys in the picture were babies or not yet born when their stories happen.

So, today was a chance to look at and re-evaluate the past. All of these drawings were done in the 1970’s. All I did was scan them with a good scanner and crop them a little to make them better compositions. And they allow me to keep track of where my mind has already been, that I might successfully chart the future of where it is going.

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The Way Mickey’s Mind Works

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If you’ve read any of the crap that Mickey wrote about before in this goofy blog, you probably already suspect that Mickey’s mind does not work like a normal mind.  The road map above is just one indicator of the weirdness of the wiring that propels Mickey on the yellow brick road to Oz and back.  He just isn’t a normal thinker.

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But having a few bats in the old belfry doesn’t prevent the man from having a plan.  If you read all of Mickey’s hometown novels, you will discover he hasn’t written them in time order.  Main characters in my 2016 novel weren’t even born yet in my 2017 books.  If you look at them in chronological order rather than the order written, you will see characters growing and changing over time.  A shy kid in one novel grows into a werewolf hunter in the next.  A girl who loses her father to suicide in a novel not yet completed, learns how to love again in another novel.

Multiple Mickian stories are totally infected with fairies.  The magic little buggers are harder to get rid of than mosquitoes and are far and away more dangerous.  And there are disturbing levels of science-fiction-ness radiating through all of the stories.  How dare he think like that?  In undulating spirals instead of straight lines!  He doesn’t even use complete sentences all the time. And they used to let that odd bird teach English to middle school kids.

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But there is a method to his utter madness.  He started with the simpler stories of growing up and learning about the terrors of kissing girls when you are only twelve.  And then he moved on into the darker realms of dealing with death and loss of love, the tragedy of finding true love and losing it again almost as soon as you recognize its reality.  Simple moves on to complex.  Order is restored with imagination, only to be broken down again and then restored yet again,.

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And, of course, we always listen to Mr. Gaiman.  He is a powerful wizard after all.  The Sandman and creator of good dreams.  So Mickey will completely ignore the fact that nobody reads his books no matter what he does or says.  And he will write another story.

Francois spotlight

It is called Sing Sad Songs, and it is the most complex and difficult story that Mickey has ever written.  And it will be glorious.  It also rips Mickey’s heart out.  And I will put that ripped-out heart back in place and make Mickey keep writing it, no matter how many times I have to wash, rinse, and repeat. The continued work is called Fools and Their Toys.  It solves the murder mystery begun in Sing Sad Songs. This re-post of an updated statement of goals is the very spell that will made that magic happen.  So, weird little head-map in hand, here we go on the writer’s journey once again and further along the trail.

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