Category Archives: self portrait

Who Are You Really, Old Man?

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A wizened old man in a wizard’s robe walked up to a twelve-year-old boy.

“Okay, ask your question, and make it good.”

“What?” said the boy.  “Who are you, old man?”

“Never mind who I am.  I can answer the ultimate question.  I have lived a long life.  I am very wise.”

“Being old makes you wise.”

“It logically follows, yes.  But surely you have a question for me.  I know the meaning of life.  I can teach you great magic, deep knowledge, and truth.  So what will you ask?”

“But the only wisdom that is real,” said the boy, “is knowing that people like you and I really know nothing in the face of the vast, complex universe.  I’m twelve.  I don’t know anything.  So I am also truly wise.”

“I can’t argue that.  It is circular reasoning.  A circle is a closed loop.  But the snake who eats his own tail in the circle of life is a short-lived fool.”

“I guess you are right.  That probably does make you wise to know that.”

“But you haven’t yet asked your question.  The good one.  What is it that you most need to know to make a success of your life?”

“But I have asked it.  You just haven’t answered.”

“You did?  But what did you ask?”

“Who are you really, old man?”

“Ah, that one again.  Well, at heart, I am the same boy that I was when I was twelve.  I have learned my whole life long, so I am considered a teacher.  I have spent every coin I have ever earned while experiencing my life, so I am a poor man.  But no man on earth can ever be richer than me.  I have peace of mind.  And that is everything of value that there is.  If I am to say who I really am, then I must admit, I am you.”

“I thought so.  In the end, that’s who we all are.”

 

 

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Filed under humor, irony, magic, Paffooney, satire, self portrait, wisdom, wizards

Finding My Voice

As Big MacIntosh welcomes more little ponies into my insanely large doll collection, I have been reading my published novel Snow Babies.  The novel is written in third person viewpoint with a single focus character for each scene.  But because the story is about a whole community surviving a blizzard with multiple story lines criss-crossing and converging only to diverge and dance away from each other again, the focus character varies from scene to scene.

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Big MacIntosh finds himself to be the leader of a new group of My Little Ponies.

In Canto Two, Valerie Clarke, the central main character of the story, is the focus character.  Any and all thoughts suggested by the narrative occur only in Valerie’s pretty little head.  Canto Three is focused through the mind of Trailways bus driver Ed Grosland.  Canto Four focuses on Sheriff’s Deputy Cliff Baily.  And so, on it goes through a multitude of different heads, some heroic, some wise, some idiotic, and some mildly insane.  Because it is a comedy about orphans freezing to death, some of the focus characters are even thinking at the reader through frozen brains.

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The ponies decide to visit Minnie Mouse’s recycled Barbie Dreamhouse where Olaf the Snowman is the acting butler.

That kind of fractured character focus threatens to turn me schizophrenic.  I enjoy thinking like varied characters and changing it up, but the more I write, the more the characters become like me, and the more I become them.  How exactly do you manage a humorous narrative voice when you are constantly becoming someone else and morphing the way you talk to fit different people?  Especially when some of your characters are stupid people with limited vocabularies and limited understanding?

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The ponies are invited to live upstairs with the evil rabbit, Pokemon, and Minions.

I did an entire novel, Superchicken, in third person viewpoint with one focus character, Edward-Andrew Campbell, the Superchicken himself.  That is considerably less schizophrenic than the other book.  But it is still telling a story in my voice with my penchant for big words, metaphors, and exaggerations.

The novel I am working on in rough draft manuscript form right now, The Baby Werewolf, is done entirely in first person point of view.  That is even more of an exercise of losing yourself inside the head of a character who is not you.  One of the first person narrators is a girl, and one is a werewolf.  So, I have really had to stretch my writing ability to make myself into someone else multiple times.

I assure you, I am working hard to find a proper voice with which to share my personal wit and wisdom with the world.  But if the men in white coats come to lock me away in a loony bin somewhere, it won’t be because I am playing a lot with My Little Ponies.

 

 

 

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Filed under commentary, goofiness, humor, insight, NOVEL WRITING, photo paffoonies, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life, writing, writing humor

Robins, Blue Jays, and Blackbirds

God talks to me through the birds.  I know that sounds crazy.  Only a loony man like Francis of Assisi could ever believe such a foolish thing, right?  But is is true.  I am aware of the birds around me at all times because birds have meaning, and when I need to see certain signs from God to center and redirect my life and spiritual awareness, God puts certain birds in my way, hoping that I will see them and interpret their meaning correctly.

This morning at QT I saw three different kinds of bird.  First I saw a robin while eating my QT pumpkin spice doughnut.  Then a blue jay on the ground hopped out from behind the corner of the building.  Then a pair of blackbirds flew down to watch the jay hunting through the grass.

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Robins are traditionally the bird of spring-time, the harbinger of the end of winter.  As a boy in Iowa, it was always a relief after the long cold winter to see the first robin of spring.  But it means more than that.  Robins are reliable.  They leave for the winter to parts south and always return to bring hope for relief from our troubles.  You can depend on robins to provide that service.  The robin I saw this morning, I saw in early December.  Winter is just beginning.  But Texas is a place where robins spend the winter.  God is telling me through the robin that my troubles are ending, easing into a metaphorical Spring and Summer.  And like the robin, God is asking me to continue being reliable for my family and everyone else who looks to me for signs of hope, candle flames in the darkness, and a return to spring.  How’s that for bird-brained thinking?

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Blue Jays are bullies and thieves.  If you have ever watched birds go about bird-business, and ever specifically watched blue jays do their jobs, then you already know they are bully birds.  A blue jay will arrive at the bird feeder and drive off the sparrows, finches, and chickadees.  They use their superior size to dominate the other birds, eating their fill before allowing the smaller birds their chance.  They are aggressive enough to land on your picnic table and snatch a McDonald’s French fry or six if you are not close enough to swat them.  And it was a blue jay that got me three times on the top of my head with her claws, diving at me like a dive bomber, when I was ten and didn’t realize that her chick had fallen out of her nest and sat shivering next to the sidewalk where I was walking.

Seeing the bird this morning was a reminder that there will be more aggressive folks on the sidewalk of life ahead of me that I will have to avoid.  But this blue jay did nothing but hunt the grass for himself.  He did not bother any other bird.  So relief from the aggression of others is at least possible.

And black birds are the most common sorts of birds to see.  But when you say, “black birds” what do you really mean?  Grackles, creeks, common grackles, starlings, magpies, and redwing blackbirds are all black birds, even though they couldn’t be more varied and different from each other.  The black birds I saw this morning were common grackles, which, of course, aren’t even truly black.  They have iridescent blue-green feathers on their heads that can reflect sunlight with neon blazes of color.  Black birds tend to be scavengers, trash-snatchers of the highest order that live on whatever they find. So they really feel that all business is their business. No trash bin left unattended, or bug that a blue jay scared up and then ignored, is beneath their notice.

So God is telling me to appreciate all those around me.  I should notice and record their many unique beauties  and skills and useful utilities.

There was good reason that Francis of Assisi preached to the birds.  They are always watching, always listening, and, if studied carefully, always telling us about God’s will.

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Filed under birds, goofy thoughts, humor, insight, inspiration, religion, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Mickey at Sixty, Part Two

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As often happens with doddering old doofuses, you can easily reach 500 words and have to stop for the day even though you are still not through with saying all the stupid stuff you have on your doddering old doofus mind.  So that’s when you get a part two the next day.

Things have happened to me in the middle of the year following the sixtieth anniversary of the blizzard I was born during in 1956 that I still haven’t talked about during this Mickey at Sixty topic.

I am, after all, a survivor, about to pass birthday number 61, the year beyond which Robin Williams never made it.  I have always said that if the old saying, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,” is actually true, then I must be Superman by now.  I am now in my third year of not being able to afford the medicine the doctor thinks I should be taking daily.  I have had arthritis for 42 years.  I have been a diabetic for 17 years.  I have been a cancer survivor since 1983.  By all rights, I should be long dead by now.  How God ever made that mistake, I will never know.  Surely it was an oversight on His part.  “What? Mickey is still alive on planet Earth?  How could I let that happen?  Oh, well, maybe we give him one more year to see how that turns out,” God says, and all the angels agree with him because angels never think for themselves, at least, not after Lucifer, that nutty angel in the red pajamas that always carries around a pitchfork.

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And what am I actually doing with my year of life that I probably wasn’t supposed to have?  Constructive things like becoming a nudist and giving up on wearing clothes.  (Probably not a great idea for someone whose corpus strangioso is so intolerably unsightly to normal people.)  I went to the nudist park in Alvord, Texas one time.  And I liked it.  And I have thought about going back on another weekend, but something always seems to come up and prevent me from following through with the plan.  But it has been remarkably good for my blog.  Apparently having my post Becoming a Nudist appear on clothesfreelife.com refers loads of readers to my WordPress blog.  Who knew that nudists were such avid readers of humor blogs by goofy Mickeys?  They have helped make my blog post Why Do You Think That? Part Four one of my most popular blogs of the year.

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This is also the year of my life in which I was forced to give up on the idea of restoring the swimming pool to life and having it removed, thanks to the bully-boy encouragements of the city pool inspector and the rest of the Nazis down at the City Environmental Services Office.

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Dreams die hard… and expensively… by stages.  It took most of the summer to get it done, but now my swimming pool is no more.

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So now Mickey is a sadder-but-no-wiser Mickey with no more swimming pool.

But Mickey is still Mickey, even at sixty.  He will break out the paper and colored pencils and still do the doings that old doofus Mickey will do, writing a bunch of nonsense, and coloring…20171008_211247 stuff, and doing some of it naked.

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Mickey Being Mickey

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A new day dawns.  It leaves me wondering.  Who am I today?  Who will I be tomorrow?

The opportunity to have any sort of control over who and what I am is coming to a close.  I don’t really know how much longer I have before pain and illness dissolve me into nothingness.  But death is not the end of existence. I may be forgotten totally by the day after next Thursday, but my existence will still have become a permanent fact.  Yes, I am one of those dopey-derfy-think-too-much types known as an existentialist.

I am feeling ill again.  Any time that happens may be the last time.  But that doesn’t worry me.

 

 

The important thing is that the dance continues.  It doesn’t matter who the dancers are, or who supplies the music.

We can be clowns if we choose to be.

We can safely be fools if we really can’t help it.

An awful lot of awful things go into who and what we are.  Those things make us full of awe.  They make us awesome.  Aw, shucks.  What an awful thing to say.

 

But what is all this stuff and nonsense really about today?

It’s just Mickey being Mickey… Mickey for another day.

It’s not really poetry.  It certainly isn’t wisdom.  It’s a little bit funny, and only mildly depressing… for a change.

It’s just Mickey being Mickey.  And a partially Paffooney gallery.

…To fill some space today.

And wonder about tomorrow.

And just be Mickey a little bit more.

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Dvorák’s Scherzo in the Nude

Another opportunity to visit the nudist park has passed without me being able to seize the day and do what I really wanted to do this weekend.  It was, however, a different set of reasons than last time.  Last time I was determined to go on a Saturday when more nudists would actually be present.  I got sick and it rained that Saturday.  So I set my sights on Labor Day weekend.

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This weekend the hurricane that ravaged Houston changed my plans.  You see, the storm also ravaged Port Arthur and the distribution points that local gas stations rely on for new shipments on a weekly basis.  I did not see the gas shortage coming in time.  The lines at gas stations and two hour waits for gas mostly all happened before I was ready to cope with it.  So I was not prepared to make the trip when the time came.  Gas stations are limited to selling chewing gum and promising that more gas would be available by the middle of next week.

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Yes, the boy in the picture is me naked as I might’ve been in a more sylvan youth than the one I actually had.

So I am left to sit here in my bedroom studio in the nude writing this and listening to Dvorák’s Scherzo Capriccioso on YouTube.

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A scherzo is, perhaps, the perfect metaphor for an essay like this one.  Most of what I write are really scherziplay (or scherzi if I hadn’t goofed on that typo in the definition) if you analyze them closely.  Sprightly and humorous idea flows (at least, they make me laugh) that wax thoughtful and slightly serious at certain points.  This one, the capriccioso, the capricious and mercurial idea that I have somehow turned into a nudist, is my attempt to make sense of the nonsensical, the whims and flimsy that led me to be a naked old man.

You may have noticed in my artwork a tendency to associate nudity with childlike innocence.  (At least, you should have noticed if I have any ability at all as a writer and artist to guide your perceptions.)   There is no sense at the nudist park that it is about sexuality and impending orgies.  Those things are completely against the rules and have no place among actual nudists.  You go to a nudist park and it is just you and your towel for sitting on talking to a bunch of naked people who just as fat and old and saggy and baggy as you are, each with their own towels for sitting on.  Nobody uses more than their first names, and more than that is not necessary.  Nudists are more open and honest than most people you meet in social situations.  They literally are not hiding anything.  And I have discovered that I fit right in there.  It seems like the most natural thing in the world.

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Once I got past the initial embarrassment that anyone would feel in that new-nudist situation, I came to the conclusion that I have always been a nudist.  Having been born a nudist, my parents and grandparents trained me not to be one, and being sexually assaulted at ten gave added horror to being naked around others that it took a lifetime to overcome.  But naked is how we were created.  There is a reason that Adam and Eve didn’t wear clothes in Eden.

I didn’t get to go back to the nudist park this holiday weekend.  I will never convince my wife and kids to go with me either.  In fact, I myself may never have another opportunity to go back there.  But listening to Dvorak’s Scherzo has confirmed in me that I am a nudist and always have been.  Sorry if I have frightened you with my naked ideas, but maybe you should listen to a scherzo naked and test whether you are one too.

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Mickey and the Mother of Invention

Cool title, right?  No? It needs a lot of further explanation?  All right, here goes.

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“Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist of creating out of void, but out of chaos”—Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Whether you prefer the stealer of Tesla inventions or the author of Frankenstein for invention quotes, you have to admit they are both right.  Those of us who think creatively try with all our might and mind to take the wreckage life has given us and make something new.  Preferably we make something that is good for us and improves our situation.  But sometimes it turns out that it only makes matters worse and creates monsters of the mind.

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When I was ten, I was sexually assaulted by a neighbor boy who was older and stronger and decidedly crueler than me.  It split my world into pieces.  I retreated into fantasy worlds and lived in my imagination far more than the real world.  The monster in my memory was locked away in a tightly sealed forget-me box.  I repressed the memory successfully until I was twenty-two.  My creativity and inventiveness turned to fantasy art and fanciful fiction.  I worked at having a good sense of humor, being a tough athlete on the high school football field, and trying to force people to accept me as the brainiac weird kid who always knew the answers in science class and could do practically anything except successfully talk to girls.

Surprisingly my greatest invention would turn out to be me.  I reinvented myself.

I would’ve never believed when I was young that I was made to be a teacher.  I lived inside my own head.  How could I be a teacher and control a classroom and make people listen to the various shards of nonsense that I was completely full of?  But, through gradual problem-solving, I learned to be an effective public speaker.  I learned how to be an engaging presenter.  I did a few magic tricks.  I told more than a few jokes.  Some of them were even funny.  I learned how to put ideas in front of children in visual displays and organization charts.  I learned how to teach people to read.  And more than that, I learned how to teach people to learn.

I honestly don’t think I would’ve learned to do all of that if my childhood psyche hadn’t been broken and hidden away in brain boxes when I was ten.  I might still have been an artist.  But not the teacher and story-teller I ultimately became.  Without the mountain to climb, a boy can never become a mountain-climber.  Without a star to see and study, he can never be an astrophysicist.  And without a brain filled with broken brain bits, a man can never learn how to put himself back together again, let alone teach others how to do it.  All the king’s horses and all the king’s men are no help with this endeavor.

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Have I now explained my terribly tilted title?  Does this help you see how I have sung the songs taught to me by the Mother of Invention?  Probably not.  I am a rather dense little goof and the work of making me into me is not yet finished.  I crashed and burned again a couple of years ago when I had to retire from teaching.  I had to invent myself again as something new.  I am certainly not done hitting the metal work with a big black hammer.  But, perhaps, you can see the tool-marks on this blog and learn something from it too.

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