Category Archives: self pity

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

Tumbling the Trumpinator

It has gone beyond the realm of credibility.  How can a pumpkin-headed orangutan with a belly full of racial hatred and Islamophobia still be nominally running this country?  Has he not committed enough irredeemable sins to be sent to Hell, directly to Hell, do not pass GO and do not collect $200!?  I think he stole all the “Get out of jail free” cards before the game ever started.

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I have never called this Twitter twit-wit my president.  I never voted for him.  He did not win the popular vote.  He would not have won the electoral college without Republican cheating at voter suppression and Russian influence through email chicanery.  But the terrible things he has done so far have not gotten him removed from office.  Republicans still treat him as if he were a rational adult.  And Fox News is not only putting lipstick on the pig, they are covering him in red, white, and blue frosting and molding him into the shape of an American Eagle.  Why do we put up with these tactics?

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Perhaps other cartoonists and I are the only ones who see him for what he really is.  He’s an ignorant con man put into a position of power by billionaires so they can foist their evil agenda on us and have him rubber-stamp it with faux legitimacy.

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The betrayal of the DACA Dreamers was fifteen straws beyond the last straw for me.  Who is planning to remove him from office immediately?  I want to help.  I don’t believe in solving problems with guns, but I can throw a mean banana cream pie of satire and sarcasm.  I’m actually Hell at pie-whacking faces.   I can attempt to hurt him with rotten tomatoes of jokery and the silly string  of mockery too.  But even the image of this buffoon in cheap clothing with long red ties is immune to the assaults of mere humor.  He never gets the joke, and it is never on him.  It is on us instead.

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He hurts too many good people by taking away things that they need.  He may have damaged the way sick people access health care to the point that many, including me, will die for lack of funds.  He de-values human life by pardoning racist criminals like Arpaio and praising malevolent dictators like Putin.  He puts human life at risk by taunting another irrational man-baby who also has nukes to play chicken with.

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And no effort to remove him from office for crimes which he obviously committed and shows no signs of anything but guilt about will be made by the party now in power.

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So what will you do to bring back our country and our supposed sanity?  Tell me.  I want to hear a plan.  I stand ready with foam rubber whack bats to take the best shots I am capable of to help.  And I am not the only one.  (Truly, I drew none of the cartoons in this post myself.  Good cartoonists are legion in this day and age.)

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Tweedle Beetle Battles Over Swimming Pools

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I worked hard to repair the family pool and get it working again this summer.  I failed.  I am now resigned to having it demolished and already set up the demolition with a local company.  But last night we had to go to the city hall and sit in front of 6 of the 12 people who decide things about unsafe structures on residential properties.  Why?  So they could condemn us as useless bums who are apparently plotting to bring property values down for reasons unknowable.  Yes, we must certainly be evil.  The official ruling was, “If the pool is not demolished in 30 days time, the city will step in and demolish it and charge a tax lien against the property to pay for it.”  This was apparently necessary even though we have made arrangements for the demolition two weeks prior to the hearing.  What fun could the city commissioners have if they didn’t make us sit through the hearing and force us to explain ourselves for this hideous breach of social contract and then make us listen to a decision devoid of reference to any of the things we explained to them?  Their conclusion was, “These losers have done nothing to fix the situation, so let’s threaten and humiliate them!”  I took it fairly well, knowing the outcome was already settled and arranged at home.  My wife, however, launched into them with a rant about being unfair and unresponsive to the needs of homeowners.  Smoke was coming out of her ears as she finished.  They simply wrote us off as losers and went on to the next guy whose pool needs repairs for which he has no money due to recent surgery.  Him they made cry and plead.  Rich white folks and one guy from India make up that board.  Their function seems to be to make us feel miserable and grind us up over the fact that things continue to wear out and our incomes cover less and less of the replacement costs every single year.  No sympathy.  No mercy.  You argue, they just blink at you and pass harsh judgments.  So the pool problem is done with.  Double dips of dubious dog poop on them!

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Battling Pirates and Losing

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I have been boarded and scuttled by the pirates of Banko Merricka.  Yes the blood-thirsty buccaneers have won their lawsuit against me and forced me into a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  You see, they ambushed me.  When I was undergoing a debt reduction plan, the evil banker buccaneers of Banko Merricka not only refused to answer all calls from my lawyer, they quietly sold my debt to their ruthless debt collecting assassins, who waited until I had paid off all my other creditors, and then launched a lawsuit against me.  They normally get away with this kind of ambush because people in general don’t know how to respond.  I hired a lawyer and fought back.  I would’ve been able to pay a settlement if it had occurred when I wasn’t dealing with a big financial hit from the city over the derelict swimming pool.

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My Banko Merricka debt was boosted by a couple thousand dollars due to their court fees which I must also pay.   It is a very expensive process for the average American to become bankrupt and poor.  The kind of bankruptcy I will undergo bundles all my unpaid unsecured credit card debt into one huge pile and then, supervised by an account manager, I will pay it off in manageable chunks for the next five years.  It wipes out all my credit accounts except car payments and reduces my ability to secure loans to zero.  The pirates have won.

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But I am not despairing.  I haven’t been able to afford medicine and going to the doctor since I retired, so I will probably not live to pay it all off anyway.  And money is not the focus of my life.  The people who care about money more than life itself do not lead happier lives than I do.  If we lose our house and have to move to an apartment, we can do that.  If I have to get by on less each month, well, I’ve done that before.  Money worries will not be the cause of my heart attack or stroke.  And who knows, if I eat enough spinach, maybe there is super-power to fight back with in my future.  Pirates don’t win every battle.

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Filed under angry rant, battling depression, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, humor, monsters, Paffooney, Pirates, satire, self pity

Stupid Is as Stupid Does

This is not a tribute to Winston Groom and his famous creation, Forrest Gump.  This is an admission that when I have had very little sleep and lots of worry lines on my brow, I often do remarkably stupid things.

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And sometimes, doing something monumentally stupid makes me feel better.  You know, more a part of the stupid, meaningless, and goofy world around me.  So, what stupid thing did I do?  I joined a nudist organization’s website.  Me, who freaks out when members of my own family happen to see me naked.  And, you see, there is more to joining this organization than just signing up for some random thing on the internet where you get a lot of random emails.  I had to submit nude photos of myself to be posted in community forums.  And I may be able to write a blog for this website, which will mean taking some camping gear and actually going to the naturist club site near Dallas to experience the things I will be writing about… and probably making jokes about.  But don’t be afraid of being subjected to the hideous torture of having to see me naked.  In order to see any of that, you would have to join the organization yourself, and you are probably not as stupid as me.  (But I am not telling you the name of the website anyway.)

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This is a detail from an illustration based on Golding’s Lord of the Flies.  But it is also a picture of me and a childhood friend from back in the skinny-dipping days, based on an old black-and-white photo.

You see, I have some real life experiences with nudists before this happened.  I had a roommate in grad school who liked to go au naturel, and even was comfortable with me being in the room when his girlfriend was visiting.  He was nude in the kitchen one time when my grandparents came to visit.  It is a good thing my grandfather entered that room ahead of my grandmother.  I also had a girlfriend in the eighties who had a sister living in the clothing-optional apartment complex in Austin, Texas.  Every time we visited Austin, the city nearest where my parents lived, she would stay with her sister there and I would have to go in to fetch her whenever we had plans.  Sometimes I was there just to visit.  But always, since clothing was optional, I took that option.  I did get used to being around naked people, though.  I actually have nudist friends.

So, though I am not a nudist, I guess I already know a lot about how to be one.  It is how I managed to stumble into this awkward arrangement.

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I know I will never be able to get my wife to go along on this harrowing adventure.  She refuses to even consider going nude in the house.  She has to wear clothes to bed even though studies say that sleeping nude is good for you.  I will be facing this basically naked and alone.  And possible paid writing work will never make this worth it by itself.

But my photos are already posted and approved.  My membership is a real thing.  And I am not ready to shoot myself for this stupid decision.  In fact, I will probably be less naked there than I have been here in this very blog where my every secret is laid bare and made fun of on a daily basis.

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Filed under battling depression, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, humor, nudes, Paffooney, self pity, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life

This is How the World Ends…

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The T. S. Eliot poem “The Hollow Men” talks about the disappointing nature of human beings and ends  with a dire four lines quoted more often than any poem’s end in the history of poetry.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Now I have revealed this particular truth more than once.  I am not prescient.  I am an idiot.  And the only things I know for certain about the future are that I will die one day, and so will everyone else.  But knowing those things  is wisdom.  Especially the idiot part.

And I can see how things are progressing.  I know what people are like at their core.  If humanity is doomed to die out in the next century, or even the next decade, it will not be because of nuclear war.  It will be something sneakier, quieter, and more permanently lethal.

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It will be the fact that people are capable of heartlessness and cruelty.  Adolf Hitler turned the full power of government-focused hatred on those he defined as less than human; Jews, gypsies, gay people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the mentally handicapped.  He used that focus to burn those peoples out of existence.  But many forces in the human character rose up to shield the victims, saving some and avenging the others.  Hitler learned the hard way that he was not the end of the world… from a bullet, in a bunker, having lost an empire.

Now, the Republican clown show in the United States is turning into Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

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They show lack of concern for anything but corporate profits.  They will undo Medicare and cancel the Meals on Wheels program because, according to evil leprechauns in charge of the budget, we can’t afford to feed people, or educate people, or do anything to dry up the painful ocean of poverty capitalism is creating.  No, we must bury our pots of gold and any magic they have left in them.

They have changed the laws on environmental protections to allow themselves to profit by pouring pollutants into rivers and water supplies.  They pull out of world-wide agreements to work towards saving the environment from climate change.

They may have found a way to focus hatred through the lens of indifference.  Hitler’s mistake was in thinking most humans could be manipulated only through fear and hatred for those who were different.  Trump’s troll army has added stupidity and greed to the lenses the light can be filtered through.  And so, they may well succeed where Nazis failed.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

 

 

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The Moaning Writer

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I am not Charles Dickens.  I wish I were.  I want to be a writer of wry humor, social commentary, and have an effect on the soul of the world I live in.  The way he was.  Heck, Dickens invented Christmas the way we do it now (with considerable help from department stores like Macy’s) by writing A Christmas Carol.  But the chances for that are growing ever dimmer.

The small publisher with which I was associated, and who gave me a contract to publish Snow Babies, has died.  The business folded while my novel was still in the editorial phase.  PDMI Publishing was a worthy group of writers and entrepreneurs who in a different time might’ve gone far.  I know by reading some of their works that they had talent.  But between the ferocious grip of the mega publishers and the waves upon waves of self-published stuff on Amazon, real writers with talent are drowning in a sea of mediocrity and media indifference.  Writers who succeed are the ones with the most luck or the most direct connections to the gate keepers.  Profit is far more important than literary merit.  You don’t really have to have talent any more.  You don’t have to know what a split infinitive is or how to compose a compound sentence properly or how to spell.  Shoot, you barely have to know how to write.  Just write about sparkly teenage vampires falling in love with high school girls or sexual perverts who are into torture devices, and you can be a millionaire… if you can somehow luck out over the millions of wannabes writing the same exact crap.

There was a time when writing teachers and published authors were telling me that sooner or later good writing gets published.  It was supposed to be inevitable.  But that was a different time than now.  Different rules for the game.  I will have two published books with two different publishers.  I-Universe published Catch a Falling Star.  And Page Publishing will publish Magical Miss Morgan.  But I paid both of those publishers to turn my books into published paper books with ISBN numbers and access to customers of Barnes and Noble and other outlets.  But I don’t expect to earn the money back that I invested.  Not while I’m still alive at least.

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My I-Universe publishing experience was worth it.  I spent a lot of money to get Catch a Falling Star published, but I got to work with real editors and advisers who had experience working for Knopf and Random House.  They gave me a real evaluation of my work and taught me how the business of promoting the book was supposed to work.  And the help that they gave me ended there.  No advertising budget beyond what I could afford myself.  I learned a lot for my money.  But I had to come to terms with the fact that marketing was going to take more time and effort than I was physically capable of doing.  I have six incurable diseases and am a cancer survivor after all.

Page Publishing was a mistake.  They were cheaper than I-Universe, but I am not getting anywhere near the value for my money.  Instead of real editors reading and suggesting and modifying my work, I get nit-picky grammar Nazis who don’t even know as much about grammar as I do.  They are only copy editing.  And the last rewrite was me spending time changing all the incorrect changes they made back to the original text.  They did not even tell me the name of the editor making the changes.  I talked to the I-Universe editors over the phone and discussed changes in detail.  Page gives me email copies to read over and fume about silently.  They are no better than the vanity presses of old who were really no more than a re-typing and printing service.

So, from here on, I will only do the self-publishing options available through Amazon.  I have no more money or energy to spend on the black hole of literary dreams.

I can’t help but be a writer, though.  That part is genetic.  I will continue to write and tell stories that I need to tell.  I can’t help it.  Not to do so will cause me to shrivel and die almost instantly.  And I am only exaggerating just a little bit.  Well, maybe a lot.  But it is still true.

Whatever promises the future holds, I am not depending on them for my feelings of success, closure, and self-worth.  The world as I have come to know it will always be a ridiculous stew-pot of ideas and ego and cow poop, and I am not so much giving up as stepping out of the stew.  I wish to tell stories for the story’s sake.  I have no delusions of becoming as wealthy as Stephen King or J.K. Rowling.  I will never be Charles Dickens.  And I am okay with that.

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