Category Archives: photo paffoonies

The Muffin Man Goes Uber-ing

I have been retired now for nearly four years.  It has not been an easy thing to adjust to.  I am used to hard work and constant thinking on my feet.  Yet I have been mostly confined to the house and unable to do much beyond write and drive my kids to the many places high school kids need to go.  I don’t really have trouble keeping busy, but I need to do something to reconnect to the outside world beyond the bedroom door.

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I have been teaching myself to cook.  These muffins are strawberry flavored and only require milk added to the mix, no eggs to crack and shell pieces to pick out of the batter.  I have also been learning the hard way how to burn the crap out of pans and muffin trays.  And… learning how to clean burned pans… but obviously not very well.

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I have been getting to know the oven quite well.  We talk about life and muffins and heat and baking times, and she is constantly beeping at me to warn me when things are about to burn.

She has also been giving me writing advice.  She got me talked into not burning my bank account any further by investing in publishing services.  Those goobers are mostly just money-grubbers in a dying industry.  My novel Stardusters and Space Lizards was thoroughly baked on this blog over the last sixty eight weeks, and so I needed to finally take it out of the oven.  This I did through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.  The book was formatted and put together in publishable form in a matter of days.  You can find it here on Amazon… My Book.  Page Publishing still has my novel Magical Miss Morgan in page formatting after over a year and a half of working with them. No way are their services worth the money I paid them.  They work slowly and dangerously incompetently.  I would sue them to get my money back, but it would cost me more for a lawyer than what I paid them.  So far with self-publishing I am only ten dollars in the hole, the amount I spent on copies of my own book.

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But as the stove pointed out heatedly, the kitchen and computer are not actually getting out of the house and meeting the world again after three and three quarters years.  And the chances of income from muffins and writing are slim.  So I also made a plan to be an Uber driver.  I got carefully signed up and prepared.  I was finally able to download the Uber driving app last weekend, and this weekend I finally felt well enough to try driving for money.  So last night I got in the car and connected with a potential passenger, my first ever Uber drive.

Of course, this is Mickey we are talking about here.  Nothing in my little life ever goes smoothly, especially at the start.  If things were perfect, I would definitely be worried that something was seriously wrong with the universe.  So, my first passenger was a guy who needed to be driven to the 7-Eleven to buy beer.  And naturally, I couldn’t find the place to start with.  The Uber computer-voice lady kept wanting me to download something in the middle of giving me directions.  She also wanted me to turn left and drive through a fence.  But when I finally did turn in to the apartment complex and realized that I was in the wrong section of the complex to pick up my passenger, I quickly corrected my error and found him.  Computer-voice lady kept telling me to turn the wrong direction, so I listened to my passenger to make the proper turns and got him there on time.  My car, however, overheated in the parking lot.  Now, that isn’t entirely accurate.  It has a faulty heat-sensor that registers overheating whenever the car is idling and heat is reflected back up from stationary pavement under the car.  I had the thing in to the dealer for the recall fix twice, and the replacement chips are just as defective as the original chips.  And, of course, I have been notified about the class action lawsuit, but because it is not a life-threatening malfunction, it may be some time before that is resolved.  So, I rolled down the windows and turned the car heater up high and reduced the heat the defective detector detected.  The drunk guy got back in the car with his beer and I successfully took him back to his apartment, his girlfriend, and his party.  I got a five star rating for the trip.  But I cut the night short.  I earned $4.oo total for the evening.  It wasn’t perfect, but I was finally out in the world again.  I was earning money again.  And I got to discuss the perils of diabetes with a drunk guy whose brother had juvenile diabetes.  Life is good… some of the time.

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Filed under being alone, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, foolishness, humor, illness, photo paffoonies

Doing Photos in Pen and Ink

Today I made an attempt to photograph some of my pen and ink stuff in ways that are less gray and gloomy.

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This pen and ink scene is entirely from my imagination.  Both the gnarled tree and the castle were taken from doodles on throw-away newsprint.  The Buffalo was an exercise in capturing an animal from a photo in pen and ink.  The whole thing is much too big to fit on my little scanner.  Last time I photogged it, it came out as mostly a pool of murky gray with black tattoos all over it.  This time I used my 300 Watt light and bounced it at an angle to get this less murky pastel gray photo of the scene.

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I am definitely not the world’s greatest photographer.  I am ranked somewhere in the top 3 billions, maybe, on a good day.  This blasphemy in pen and ink is Animal Town with its jarring forced perspectives and two-dimensional silliness.  Last time I photogged it, it came out looking pretty much the same as it did here.  Even photogging in natural Texas sunlight tends to make this composition into flat gray wallpaper.

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Here is an even worse experiment.  This one is an unfinished drawing of a nudist beauty pageant being hosted in Toon Town.  Besides being stupid and in poor taste, the pencil lines tend to totally disappear in the gray fog.  But, truthfully, I probably should have thrown this thing away long ago rather than trying to photograph it.

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This pen and ink is enhanced with colored pencil.  It looks better in many ways even though I didn’t change the light source, the filters, or the camera.  Color, I guess is the answer for me and my inadequate photography skills.  We shall see what we shall see as I continue to experiment and learn.  Maybe I can rise up to number 2,999,999,999… with about a million years of practice.

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Filed under artwork, cartoons, colored pencil, humor, nudes, pen and ink, photo paffoonies, photos, studio

Life is a Book

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Life is a Book

I write chapters in it every day

The themes are more numerous than the stars

And the themes are always… always complex

But I work through them

One word after another

And soon I will close it

And write no more

But it will still be there

My book

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With the conclusion of Stardusters and Space Lizards, I have now completed a novel nine times.  The seven titles above are the ones I am actually proud of having written.  I am beginning to feel like a novelist.

I should point out that I don’t claim to be a professional novelist.  I have spent a lot more money than I have earned by writing.  But I am not a hobbyist.  After teaching ended as the career that defined my life, writing became my life’s work.  I am trying to become a published novelist.  But “published” is becoming an increasingly complex idea.

Catch a Falling Star is published and available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and I-Universe, the actual publisher.  I-Universe is an Indie publisher, but connected to Penguin Books, and so owned by one of the big five.  Aeroquest is published by Publish America, but I could’ve copied from the encyclopedia and they would’ve bound it into a book form.  I am embarrassed to even own up to having written it.  Snow Babies was a contest finalist manuscript and supposed to be published by PDMI Publishing LLC,  but that publisher folded after the editing was done and so it never found its way into print. Magical Miss Morgan is currently with Page Publishing, a vanity press operation that already collected their fees and don’t seem to be publishing my work.  I am looking into the process of suing in case they don’t come through on a process that is already a year overdue.  And I am determined to see the rest of my books in print if that is in any way possible.  Who knows?  Someday somebody may actually read and like my books… by which I mean somebody that I haven’t paid to read it.  The last one I paid to read one wrote the review on somebody else’s book by mistake and then corrected the error by writing a fudged book report on the back cover blurb.  My luck as an author is reminiscent of Vincent Van Gogh’s luck as a painter.

My life is a book.  I am still writing it.  And I will never let go the pen while I still have life enough to hold it in my hands..

 

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Filed under announcement, autobiography, humor, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, photo paffoonies

The Encounter

Life, like a good Dungeons and Dragons game, is basically controlled by rolling the dice of random encounters.  Even if there is a great over-arching plan for this reality in the brain of the Great Dungeon Master in the Sky, it is constantly altered by the roll of celestial dice and ultimate random chance.

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Thusly, I managed a D & D encounter in the middle of the night last night.

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I generally have a sleeping skill of only +1.  That means, that if sleeping is a simple skill, I can add my +1 to the roll and only have to get a 6 or higher on a twenty-sided dice.  At 3:10 a.m. I rolled a 3.  I had to get up and wander bleary-eyed to the bathroom, a -2 for terrain effects to successfully to make it to the bathroom and pee through a prostate that is swollen to the size of a grapefruit, most often a difficult task, requiring a 15 on a twenty-sided dice.  I got lucky.  I rolled a 19.  Then, on the way back to bed, the dog rolled a natural 20 on her get-the-master’s-attention roll and let me know she had to go to the bathroom too.

I have to tell you at this point, that since I am trying to be more of a nudist, I seriously considered taking her out naked (by which I mean me, not her).  Dressing up in the middle of the night can be daunting.  And no one was going to see in the dark of the park at 3:15 a.m.  But I thought it probably wasn’t a good idea to go adventuring without armor in the darkness, so I at least put on shoes and a magic +4 bathrobe.

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So, we went out to let the dog poop in the park, a thing she can do profusely on a roll of 3 or higher.  We got it accomplished with little fuss.  Oh, there was some complaining and growling, but the dog manage to ignore me when I did it.  Then we had to find our way safely back to the house, and bed…. but we had a random encounter roll that didn’t go in our favor.  I am always on the lookout in the dark for aliens or black-eyed children or even the onset of the zombie apocalypse.  But what I got was the monster from under the bridge.

One of the denizens of the city suburbs that most enjoys the nightlife in the city and thrives even though it isn’t human is the horrorific creature known as a raccoon.  She’s a sow that I have seen a number of times before at night.  She lives under the bridge in the park and often has three or four cubs trailing behind her in the spring.  And she has nothing but contempt for humans with dogs.  She immediately launched into her fear-based hiss attack.  And coming from a possibly seven-foot tall monster sitting atop the pool fence and hissing in the night, it seized the initiative with a very effective attack.  She rolled an 18.  The attack succeeded.

I tried the ever-popular pee-your-pants defense, but failed, rolling a 2.  The reservoir was previously emptied, and I wasn’t wearing pants.  The dog bolted for the kitchen door and dragged me with her.  Her magic bark attack wasn’t even tried.  We were in the house before my heart skipped its third beat.

Surviving the encounter in this way is probably good for the heart.  It beat really hard for a bit and got thoroughly exercised.  But I went back to bed and reflected on the fact that random encounters like that are entirely dependent on the roll of the dice.

 

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Filed under Dungeons and Dragons, horror movie, monsters, Paffooney, photo paffoonies

Adjusting the Barbie Shelf

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I put up Christmas lights over my bed again to use as winter night lights.  But this year I installed hooks to hold them.  Needless to say, the drilling and hammering of hooks made numerous Barbies and other dolls leap headlong off the shelf and into my bed below.  So, once the construction stopped I had to lift them back up into place.  But there were new places for old residents and new residents to fill old places.

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Most of the Minions now occupy new spots where they are less likely to dive off the edge.  Their little unposeable feet don’t balance very well, so it is helpful to put them where they are held back from suicide a bit by Barbie legs and other Minions.  Frankie Stein from Monster High joined the guitar-girl Barbie next to Stacy dolls and My Little Pony Fluttershy.

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Esmeralda is a Goodwill-rescue Disney doll that joined the shelf near bare-chested Ballerina Barbie, also a Goodwell rescue doll.  I haven’t figured out how to keep Ballerina Barbie’s bazzoom-ohs covered by the buttonless jacket she wears.

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The third and final picture shows the remaining shelf leapers back on the shelf with Cat-Burglar Barbie added where she’s never been before.  My Little Pony Applejack decided she was too tired for upright just before the picture was taken.  Oh, well, leaping off shelves really takes it out of you.

I know there is more to show of the Barbie shelf, but it will have to be saved for another day.  All the leapers came from the East end where all the hammering happened.

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Filed under collecting, doll collecting, goofy thoughts, humor, photo paffoonies

Life By a Roll of the Dice

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These are Warhammer 40,000 Harlequin Warriors I painted myself.

Over the years I have played many role-playing games.  Virtually always I have done so as the game master, the dungeon master, the story-teller behind the action.  Players decide what to do about the story problems I represent to them.  They have characters that have painstakingly advanced in skills and levels of skills to use for the problem-solving the plot centers around.  But ultimately, when they take action, the outcomes are decided by a roll of the dice.

Life is like that.  You labor hard to control what happens next in your life.  But random chance intervenes.  If you are the Harlequin Space Elf known as Smiley Creaturefeature (the masked elf in the green robe on the front row, far left in the picture above) and your band of high level Harlequin War Dancers have come to Checkertown City Square hunting for your hated enemy, Bone-sucker the Space Orc, it is entirely possible when you use your scanner operator skills to find him, you could roll a “1” on the twenty-sided dice.  This would mean failure.  Not merely failure, but failure on a spectacular level.  The scanner would explode, killing your entire squad, yourself included.  And all those weeks of building the character up to level 17 in order to defeat Bone-sucker and his mutant minions, would be lost and become all-for-nothing in the disappointment department.

Of course, a benevolent game master would alter the outcome in some way to keep the story going.  Perhaps the exploding scanner, instead of killing everyone, created a mini worm hole in the fabric of space-time and transported them to a parallel dimension where Bone-sucker is actually the chaotic good hero of Checkertown, and you must now work out an alliance with him to fight his enemies, the other-dimensional versions of you that are actual Evil Smiley Creaturefeature and his band of Evil Harlequin Space Elves.  You must then defeat your evil selves carrying out the evil plot that the game master had originally designed for the villain Bone-sucker to employ before returning to your own original dimension.

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Real life does not work that way.  It works more like you see above.  The lovely, metal-bikini-clad female barbarian of swimming pool repair is faced with the attack of the giant rats of city pool inspection, necessary electrical repair, and limited finances.  You can see, if you look incredibly carefully at the purple twenty-sided dice, that her defensive attack roll is a “2” for catastrophic failure.  Her sword cuts off her own leg and causes personal bankruptcy.  The giant rats roll a lucky “13” on the black twenty-sided dice for successful tooth and claw attacks.  They then go on to eat her and force the pool to be removed from the property, using up all the money the player (who is me, by the way) has left.

No game master steps in to create a more reasonable outcome.  The worst possible outcome is what happens.  That is how real life works.  Roll the dice, and lose your swimming pool.

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Filed under action figures, angry rant, Dungeons and Dragons, feeling sorry for myself, metaphor, photo paffoonies, self pity

Novel Nudists

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I have known nudists for a long time, since the 1980’s in fact.  I have recently dabbled my toes in the cold waters of being a nudist myself.  I did work on pool cracks this past summer while naked.  I made one visit to a nudist park and actually got naked in front of strangers who were also naked.  It is a certain kind of crazy connection to nature, my self, and the bare selves of others to be a nudist, even if it is for only a few hours.  I used to think nudists were crazy people.  But I have begun to understand in ways that are hard to understand.  And being a novelist, that was bound to creep into the piles of supposedly wise understanding that goes into the creation of novels.  I say “supposedly wise” because wisdom is simply the lipstick on the pig of ridiculous human experiences.

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The Cobble family appeared first in my novel, Superchicken.  It is a semi-autobiographical novel that uses some of my real life experiences and the real life experiences of boys I either grew up with or taught, mixed in with bizarre fantasy adventures that came from my perceptions of life as an adult.  So the Cobble family really represent my encounters with nudism and the semi-sane people known as nudists.  Particularly important to the story are the Cobble Sisters, twins Sherry and Shelly, who fully embrace the idea of being nudists and try to get other characters to not only approve of the behavior, but share in it.  Sherry is the more forward of the two, more willing to be seen naked by the boys in her school and in her little Iowa farm town.  Shelly is the quieter of the two, a bit more shy and a lot more focused on the love of one particular boy.

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In fact, the Cobble Sisters are based on real life twin blond girls from my recollections of the past.  The Cobble farm is out along the Iowa River and just north of Highway Three in Iowa.  It is a real place where real twin girls lived when I was a boy.  They were blond and pretty and outgoing.  But they were not actually nudists.  There was another pair of twin blond girls from my first two years of teaching who actually provided the somewhat aggressively sensual personalities of the Cobble Sisters.  The real nudists I knew were mostly in Texas.

The sisters appear in more than one of the novels I have written or am in the process of writing.  They appear for the second time in the novel Recipes for Gingerbread Children which I finished writing in 2016.  They are also a part of the novel I am working on now, The Baby Werewolf.   That last is probably the main reason they are on my mind this morning.  Writing a humorous horror story about werewolves, nudists, pornographers, and real wolves is a lot more complex and difficult than it sounds.  But it is hopefully doable.  And my nudist characters are all basically representative of the idea that all honest and straight-forward people are metaphorically naked all the time.  That’s the thing about those nudist twins.  They don’t hide anything.  Not their most private bits, and certainly not what they are thinking at any given time.

So as I continue to struggle with revealing myself as a writer… and possibly as a nudist as well, I will count on the Cobble Sisters to make certain important points about life and love and laughter… and how you can have all three while walking around naked.

Sherry Cobble22

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Filed under doll collecting, foolishness, horror writing, humor, NOVEL WRITING, nudes, Paffooney, photo paffoonies, strange and wonderful ideas about life