Category Archives: Paffooney

The Bottle Imp Implementation

I gave you a list of places where my ideas for fiction come from, and in the end, I failed to explain the thing about the bottle imp. Yes, I do get ideas from the bottle imp. He’s an angry blue boggart with limited spell powers. But he’s also more than 700 years old and has only been trapped in the bottle since 1805. So, he has about 500 years of magical life experience to draw from and answer my idea questions. Admittedly it would be more helpful if he were a smarter imp. His name is Bruce, and his IQ in human terms would only be about 75. But, then, I don’t have to worry about misfired magic. If I asked him to, “Make me a hamburger,” he wouldn’t immediately change me into a fried, ground-beef patty because he is not smart enough to do that high of a level of magic spell.

But he is just barely intelligent enough to tell me a truthful answer if I asked him a question like, “What would happen if I put an alligator’s egg in a robin’s nest as a joke, and the robin family decided it was their own weird-looking egg and then tried to hatch it?” The answer would be truthful according to his vast knowledge of swamp pranks. And it would also be funny because he’s too dumb to know better. In fact, he told me about a mother robin who worked so diligently at hatching an alligator egg that a baby alligator was hatched. She convinced it that it was actually a bird. And when it came time for the baby birds to learn to fly, the baby alligator couldn’t do it… until she talked it into flapping madly with all four legs. Then, a mother’s love and faith in her child got an alligator airborne.

Yeah, that hasn’t proved to be a very useful story idea. I put it into a story I was writing during my seven years in high school, and then lost the manuscript. (I was a teacher, not a hard-to-graduate student.) But it was proof that you can get your writing ideas from a bottle imp.

So, if you decide to use bottle imps as an idea source for fiction, the next step is to find and acquire the right sort of bottle imp. I got mine from Smellbone, the rat-faced necromancer. I bought it for an American quarter and three Canadian loonies more than a dozen years ago. I found it at his Arcana and Horse-Radish Burger Emporium in Montreal. But I am not sure how that information helps you. Smellbone died in a firey magical-transformation accident involving an angry Wall-Street financier and a dill pickle. The whole Emporium went to cinders in an hour.

If you are going to try to capture the bottle imp yourself, which I strongly do not recommend, you are going to need a magical spell-resistant butterfly net, a solid glass jar, bottle, or brass urn. A garlic-soaked cork to fit the bottle. A spell scroll ready to cast containing at least one fairy-shrink spell. And an extremely limited amount of time to actually think about what you are doing.

Now I have told you how I get writing ideas from a bottle imp. Aren’t you glad I did not include this idea in the post about where ideas come from? After all, I am a fiction writer. I get my jollies from telling lies in story form. And bottle imps, especially angry blue bottle imps named Bruce, or Charlie, or Bill, are more trouble than they are worth. They can curse you with magical spells of infinite silliness and undercut your serious nature for a lifetime.

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It’s Not Easy Being Green

It’s not easy being green…. the color of so many ordinary things…

Especially as you grow older.

Because green is the color of growth and youth and life. But those things seem beyond the grasp of your outstretched fingers on your spotty and wrinkled old hand.

I am definitely no longer green like Littlebit, the Oceanian ship’s boy from the seas of Talislanta and the pirate ship, Black Dragon.

And, yes, an Iowa boy living as far away from an ocean as you can get in the United States, in all directions, you are bound to dream of pirate ships and the high seas, especially when you’re twelve and your favorite book is Treasure Island.

But now that you are old, green is more often your color because you don’t feel well… again… every day….

B

But there is still bright green in dreams.

You can still go there and be a child again in memories and your imagination.

It’s just that now the green is written down in sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and cantos.

And talking to your kids about movies, art and artists, stories and writers of stories…

Did you know the favorite color of all three of my children is green?

I have known it since they were small and I could sing to them songs by Kermit the Frog, like “Rainbow Connections” and “It’s Not Easy Being Green.”

And with paint, you make green by combining the blue of sadness with the yellow of sunshine and happiness.

And it’s not easy being green…

But it’s beautiful…

And it’s what I want to be.

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 134

Canto 134 – Meanwhile, the Rebound…

King Killer stared out the main viewport of his Flagship, the Sherman Hemsley, looking intently at Grand Admiral Cloudstalker’s new flagship, the Giant Leaf-eater.

“It seems like such an insult for legendary pirates like Arkin Cloudstalker to be flying a dinosaur-shaped space ship. Certainly, the brains behind this new fleet coulda come up with something more respectful. It’s so silly… and green!”

“You are complaining for Cloudstalker?  Or f0r yourself?” asked Wicked Wanda.

“Yeah, yeah…  I’m not happy for me either.  His just has to sit there like some kinda brontosaurus, and he don’t have to charge about like a bison in a stampede.”

“You didn’t have to accept a triceratops ship, you know.  And that thing Cloudstalker has is a brachiosaurus.  There never was such a thing as a brontosaurus.  It was actually an apatosaurus.”

“So, you are now the ship’s dinosaur expert?”

“You know I’m not.  I’m your fleet communications officer… and paramour.”

“Yeah, I know it.”

King glared around the bridge at all of the snickering crewmen.  All seven of them on the bridge of the Hemsley.

“What?  You subordinates have opinions?” He growled menacingly.  Everyone ceased laughing instantly.

And then a gray and black trash dumpster materialized on the bridge of Admiral Killer’s flagship as if some gigantic material synthesizer pieced it together from random atoms there.

“What’s this on my bridge?”

“Um… a dumpster?” a timid crewman ventured.

They all heard the familiar snap-hiss of a sealed airlock opening, and then the thing morphed into a 1950s telephone booth.  It was almost a familiar sight to Admiral Killer.

“Dr. Hooey?”

The character who stepped out of the time-ship Star Wars was completely unrecognizable to King.

“Yes, it’s me.  I ran into some difficulties in Outpost’s near future.  I had to be reborn again, as Galagoans do, but at least I get to be younger in this body.”

“Um, why are you different from the old Hooey?”

“I understand perfectly,” Wicked Wanda said.  “Having been a holovid star myself, I definitely understand the need to change faces as you start a new season.”

“So glad you get it, old girl.  Forgive me if I turn out to be a bit cheekier than the old me.”

“So, why is the new you even here?” demanded King.

“Ah, yes!  To make sure you, Admiral King Killer, don’t give up in the coming battle of Outpost.  All you have to do to win it and establish the New Star League, is do what you intended to do before you started to have second thoughts.  If you just do the things you were supposed to do all along, the plan Ham Aero carries out will work and you all will be victorious.”

“Um, ah… what?”

But not even Wicked Wanda could interpret that one for him.  Because when did the second thoughts he was not supposed to have actually begin?  Were these old second thoughts?  Were they second thoughts that happened after the present time?  And what the heck were the first thoughts he actually had to do to win?

“Oh, never mind.  You’ll figure it out when the time is right.”

“And if I don’t figure it out?”

“Well, I guess, then, that the universe we know dies this time… once again.” King Killer glared at this new Hooey.  Yes, it really was a new Hooey.  Just like the old Hooey, only dumber.

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In Defense of Corny Jokes

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It will probably be clear that I am writing this post because I am currently reading 1941 daily strips from Al Capp’s Li’l Abner.

But I am definitely going to talk about corny jokes, not cheesy jokes, because I grew up in Iowa, not Wisconsin.

And, yes, that is example number one.

There is a certain way of telling a joke or tall tale that is unique to the farmyard.   And it does not contain chicken poop, but rather, corn.

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Of course, as you can see by this corn-colored definition of what corny means according to Collins Online Dictionary, the word is supposed to be an insult to corniness in jokery.  That doesn’t sit well with the people of Iowa, where the tall corn grows.  We are also obvious, sentimental, and not at all original.  And we are proud of it.  Corny360_2017-06-19-17-17-44-339

To tell a corny joke right, you have to set a simple scene, and make it clear what happened, and give the audience a simple cue for when to laugh.

For instance, there was the time that Cudgel Murphy had a cat problem with his car, the 1954 Austin Hereford that he has driven since dinosaurs walked the earth.  It seems there was this time in 1988 when he kept having engine trouble.  The engine would sputter and cough and die, and when Cudgel opened it, he would find a half-eaten dead pigeon or other random bird carcass gumming up the works.  He couldn’t for the life of him figure out how dead birds were getting into his car engine.  But his grandson Danny happened to see the neighbor’s big tabby tomcat carrying a pigeon he had killed under the front of Grampy’s car, apparently enjoying a fowl meal in the dark with a nice warm engine to lay the food on.  Sure enough, when they checked the engine later, there was the half-eaten dead bird laying across one end of the fan belt.

So Cudgel set up a vigil, assigning times for himself, Danny, and his younger grandson Mike to watch for signs of that damned cat taking another bird under the hood of the Austin. With only two day’s worth of watching under their belts, Mike came running into the Murphy kitchen with the news.

“Grampy!  I seen that damned cat taking a dead bird under your car!  He’s in there right now!”

So Cudgel rushed out, turned the engine on, and stomped on the gas.

cudgels car

There were some worrisome thumps and bangs under the hood, and then the cat shot out from under the front of the car spewing howls and cat curses all the way up the nearest tree.

Cudgel laughed hard and finally caught his breath to say, “How about that, Mike?  I’ll bet James Bond doesn’t have a car that can shoot angry cats out the front!”

Now, before you chastise me for enjoying cruelty to cats, I hope you will remember that Cudgel Murphy is a fictional character, and I am merely illustrating the idea behind corny jokes.  And, besides, that cat really had it coming to him.

 

 

 

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Filed under goofy thoughts, humor, Iowa, Paffooney, satire, Uncategorized, writing humor

Fairy Tales and Wishing Wells

If you are on a writer’s journey like I am, you have my sympathy. I am not saying it is not worth it. But if it is going painlessly easy for you, you are not doing it right.

If you are doing it right, you are dredging your soul deeply with a huge jagged-edged bucket to find those small gemstones of truth and life and meaning, and then trying to arrange it all into patterns and genres and stories that are artful enough not to just look like a pile of random rocks. If you do it for a lifetime, you may be lucky enough to create a masterpiece or two, a finely-crafted jeweled creation that dazzles the eye and captures the heart of the reader.

I have always been cursed with high intelligence and a vividly over-active imagination. So, in some sense, I was always destined to be some kind of a fantasy writer with dragons, unicorns, wizards, and such crap dancing in my head, and polluting it by farting rainbows too often. Fiction-writing, by its very nature has to tell a lot of lies to get to the truth. It also has to be, in large parts, autobiographical in nature to be any good. You have to write about what you actually know. Because making stuff up without real-world references will only produce crap that you yourself (meaning you, the writer-you) can only see as mud-brown dhrek.

Therefore, my stories have to be the thing that I label as Surrealism. Many experts would call it that too. It is expressed in highly metaphorical imagery, as in a boy moving in with his father and step-family at a nudist park where everybody is naked most of the time, and the boy sees practically everyone as a faun from Greek myths. (A Field Guide to Fauns) ‘Where a boy loses his whole family in a car accident in France and must rebuild himself in the US with family he has never even met before and he does it by putting on clown paint and singing sad songs, and visiting a dream world inhabited by clowns who might actually be angels. (Sing Sad Songs) Or a girl recovering from the grief of her father’s suicide during a once-in-a-lifetime blizzard where she is saved from snow-ghosts by a magical hobo and runaway orphans from a stranded Trailways bus. (Snow Babies) The reality of these stories depends on a willing suspension of disbelief challenged by a myriad of disparate things thrown together into a kaleidoscope narrative.

I have been thinking deeply about the nature of my own writing experience as I spent most of a year working to promote my books through an online author-review exchange called Pubby during a pandemic unlike anything seen in a century.

The author-review exchange thing has been a very mixed blessing. More than half of the reviews I have gotten on my work are done by authors seeking to earn points for their own books to be reviewed by cheating. They don’t actually try to read the books. Instead, they look at other existing reviews and try to cobble together some lies that don’t show any original thinking and merely parrot what other reviewers have said.

And while some reviews come from reviewers like me who work hard at reading and understanding the book and giving honest reactions that delight me by pointing out the things they actually connected with and understood in my books, other reviewers react with unexplained horror at something they found offensive to their own world view in my books, painting them in harsh terms, in one case even calling the book child-pornography and ridiculing the authors of the good reviews as someone who didn’t understand what they were reading.

But even the bad reviews are a blessing, in that they prove that someone has actually read my books. I cannot explain why that is so important, but it is.

So, hopefully you see now why I am talking about fairy tales. A writer’s journey is hard. It burns your very soul. And you are not very likely to see any rewards but the intangible ones. If you are a fellow writer on your own writer’s journey, well, I sympathize. And I can only wish you well.

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Filed under autobiography, book review, goofy thoughts, humor, novel writing, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, writing

Artwork You Haven’t Seen in a While

Yesterday, I went to the NASCAR race track at Petty Place in Fort Worth. There I was one of several thousand to sit in our cars in long lines and receive a dose of the Pfizer vaccine. And today I feel really punked out (not referring to the music, of course, because today I can’t sing.) So, I reached back in time for this Saturday Art Day post. All of these pictures have not been posted in a long time.

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 133

Canto 133 – Pink Space Cadillacs

The Super Rooster’s docking bay was filled with all the air/rafts, grav speeders, and small vehicles that Shen Ming had been able to muster from the city of Kiro and surrounding areas on the planet.  They were not exactly the most up-to-date technology in space, but they would do.

Four of the grav speeders were designed by an old interstellar vehicle company called Space Cadillacs.  Two of those were gray and white, while the other two were pink and white.

Shu Kwai was busy lifting boxes of equipment with his telekinesis and placing them into the cargo spaces of the speeders. 

Hassan Parker was busy watching and “supervising.”

Gyro looked at the pink Cadillacs with considerable curiosity.  “These things have a cockpit open to space.  How do we ride in something like that?”

“In our space suits, Smurf,” said Billy.  “The ones you altered to fit us.”

“Oh, sure.  I hope we don’t get swallowed by blossoms again.”

“That was actually a spaceship’s air lock, Gyro.”

“Oh, yeah.  But it was certainly icky.”

“Ha, where did you get a word like icky?”

“Some of you guys are real nerds, Billy.  You use lots of weird words like that.  And the Galactic English was put directly in my brain by Sara’s telepathy.”

“These pink Cadillacko thingies, Billy…  I kinda like the look of them.  Do we get to drive them?”

“Well, I might.  You would just crash one, Gyro.  You can’t drive to save your life.  Remember that grav-bike on Pan Galactica Five during the War?”

“It’s not fair to bring that up.  We crashed because it took too long to figure out what you were saying to me.”

“Yeah, it’s much easier to talk to you now.  It’s like you were born speaking Galactic English.”

“And that stupid bike thingy wouldn’t fly when I gave it a command.”

“That’s because you have to turn it on and use the proper controls in the proper way.”

“Nebulonin kanjeriey are so much easier to use.  You just tell them what you want to do or where you want to go and they fly there.”

“Those are the space-bird things that Nebulons use to get from the space-whale cruisers to the planet, right?”

“Or anywhere else you want to go.  They are much smarter than your Cadillackos.”

“It’s pronounced Cadillacs, Gyro.  And your space-birds are alive, aren’t they?”

“Very much so.  Born on gas planets, they fly in space, or they fly in atmosphere.  They carry their own oxygen-nitrogen fields with them.  Hassan could ride one through space totally naked and be fine, protected from the vacuum of space.”

“Yeah.  I don’t understand Classical Worlders either.  Why would anybody prefer to be naked all the time?”

“You remember we almost had to live like that back at Dr. Crushcracker’s school?  It was a boarding school for Classical Worlds kids.  They wanted you to go to school naked.”

“My worst nightmare.  I’m glad your dad got us out of there.  It was just too weird.”

“Yeah, well… we had to leave there because of our skin color.  We were hated for it.”

“Really?  Because of my brown skin?”

“Not really.  Because of my family’s blue skin.  We were hostile aliens to them.  They wanted to treat us as no better than the faceless ones.”

“I’m sorry about that.  It’s just stupid to think you and Jor and your Mom are not like the rest of us just because your skin is blue.”

“Well, and you and I are different too because of our Psion heads.  That’s what the Zaranians wanted to hang us for.”

“Yeah.  Thank the gods for Shan’s Prophecy and the Zaranian who saved us with it.”

“Anyway… Billy?  Would you teach me to drive one of those cool Cadillackos if I could make it have an energy-field and an atmosphere just like a space-bird?”

“You can do that?”

“I can now that Ged-sensei has trained us to get everything we possibly can out of our Psion powers.  It should be easy to make a field-generator that mimics the field-gland of a Nebulonin kanjeriey… um, space-bird.”

“In that case, I can teach you drive anything.  Especially a pink Cadillac.  I’ll have you driving it even better and with more style than Elvis the Cruel.”

“That famous pirate pilot?”

“Yeah, that’s him.”

“Thank ya, thank ya very much!”

“Oh, stop it!  You didn’t do that right.” As the driver’s training plan ended, Shu Kwai nearly dropped a crate on Hassan’s head, not because he couldn’t control it, but because the boy who was supervising was simply insufferable.

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From the Darkness Comes the Light

It is a rule, I think,

From the Start of Everything.

Darkness always must come first

Before the Stars can Sing.

No matter how Black

The bad thing really feels,

It cannot go from bad to Worse

Without Goodness on its heels.

And from our many foibles

And Monumental Blunders,

We must learn valid lessons

To discover Any Wonders.

But Dark the road ahead now seems,

And the Light We See is far away.

But steadily we trek towards the dawn,

And Bright Lights of another Day.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

***** I really had in mind another long and laborious complaining post today. But somehow it only morphed into doggerel verse. Sorry about that. Bad poets can’t help but inflict the stupid thoughts in their poet-guts on the unsuspecting sometimes. While I’m at it, I haven’t yet shared with you the FREE BOOK PROMOTION for March. This book, celebrating its first birthday, is free from this moment until midnight tomorrow night, 3/23/21.

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Art of the Ages

This is art from the 1970’s.

Today’s post is a look at artwork from various times in my life.

I will try to find some of my work in the media library for this blog that is even older than this first one. But I am combing the archive randomly, so that I need to date each one.

The first one is from around 1979, possibly ’78 or “80.

This was from before I became a teacher, but just after my arthritis helped me decide not to pursue cartooning as a career.

I was still in my 20’s when I drew this.

This next one is helpfully dated 1983. It is a portrait of my favorite kid in the first year I taught. He was in my class in the 1981-82 school year.

This one is from 1977, my junior year at Iowa State University, You can see that I was overly relying on profile views for faces on cartoon characters. An odd little weakness.

This one is from about 1992 when Jorge and his brothers, some real working caballeros, were in my classes.

This came from 1984.

This one 1978.

This picture was submitted to the adult division of the Art Contest at the Wright County Fair in 1978. I drew it on the front porch of the old house in Rowan, Iowa. It won the purple ribbon.

This was drawn in the Winter of 1980 when I had to read David Copperfield as one of the works responded to on the 1981 English Masters’ Ecam.

If I searched longer I could probably find the pictures I previously posted on this blog from when I was twelve years old. Those are about the oldest artworks I still possess. But what would it show anyway? You can see my work got a little better over time, but not much, and lately arthritis took away some of my skills.

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Friday Funnies… um, Yeah?

I have been trying for a while to develop a weekly blog routine to make thinking up something new and creative for a daily post easier… even simple. Tuesday is novel-work where I share a freshly made chapter of a work in progress.

Saturday is art day where I am supposed to share artwork I have done in a new and interesting way.

Sunday is devotional day… which is weird for an atheist who believes in God. I have a tendency to share things I am devoted to, which is far more than just religion. I have included on this blog day such things I keep sacred as Disney movies, Dr. Seuss, and being a nudist.

And Friday is supposed to be the day to be funny. Cartoons and jokes and satire and things to make you laugh.

The thing is, though I am a cartoonist, I am not that kind of cartoonist. I don’t do gag cartoons. I am more of an ironic twister of tales and tails and puns. My cartoon shared at the start here is not funny at all. Sometimes my humor novels get downright maudlin and sad. I doubt I have ever yet busted someone’s gut with laughter. I would not want to be guilty of murder by cartoon. What do you legally call that? Gag-a-cide? I put in the hyphens to make sure you didn’t think I was talking about killing Lady Gaga.

I have pretty much mastered the art of drawing cartoons. I can do eyes like Walt Kelly (the creator of Pogo) and Harvey Comics‘ noses (like the one in the Hot Stuff Devil picture) and women with huge jugs… of moonshine like Al Capp (the creator of Lil’ Abner… and you knew I meant jugs of Kickapoo Joy Juice, right? Surely you did think…)

Ah, but telling funny jokes is not what I do. Still, I believe I can lay claim to being a humorist based on this blog. I make people smirk a lot when I talk, which I take as visual confirmation that I am funny. Unless people are smirking at me for other reasons? Do I have another daddy longlegs spider dancing on my head because at least two of his long legs are tangled in my hair? Really? For the third time already?

But, regardless, I have reason to believe this post and others like it on Friday qualify for the notion of Friday Funnies. I can make myself smirk, guffaw, and sometimes giggle without looking in a mirror to see the spider. But you are welcome to dispute my funniness in the comments if you prefer it to admitting that I can sometimes make you laugh. If you do, then you will be supporting the arguments of the book reviewer who reviewed my book Mickey’s Rememberries and said, “He could be a great writer if only he were more serious/” I took that as a compliment. Irony, don’t ya know.

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