Category Archives: self portrait

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

Why Do You Think That? Part 3

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A taxonomy of different living beasts in our world is an important thing to keep up with.  Because they are constantly evolving, due to processes of evolution (Stop hitting me with that old family Bible, Reverend Winchuck!  It is still legal, for now, to say that word), you have to constantly change and refine your understanding of beasts and their relationships to one another.  So here I am trying talk about “Why liberals and conservatives are completely different species!”

When I look at a group of people, a crowd, a… what do you call a flock of people?  An idiocy perhaps?  They all look the same to me.  To tell which species they are, I have to hear them talk.  So I selected a couple of notable interviewees to explain what the differences really are.

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Bull Blindersly, head of the Bullish for Trump and Trumpkins Committee

The conservative I will use to represent conservatives is Bull Blindersly, who I noticed briefly had a Make America Great Again red hat on until the wind took it off his flat head.  I’ll let him tell you the difference in his own words.

“It’s easy to spot a libtard.  They have pointy little nerd heads full of stupid ideas based on statistics and encyclopedia facts and other such brainiac junk that clogs up your head.  They don’t have the common sense they were born with because they spend all their time reading and thinking and other stuff that just gets in the way.  There is a simple solution for everything in life.  The economy is healthy and grows if you give tax breaks to rich folks and job creators.  They will spend that money they have earned to improve things for everyone.  You don’t fix problems by dancing around giving away my hard-earned tax dollars to folks who don’t work hard enough.  Those people are just tempted to become blood-sucking parasites for life when you do that.  We need to build a wall around Animal Town to keep more of those kinds of people out.”

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                                                                                                                                                                  Phillip “Flip” Moosewinkle. ACLU lawyer and Dal Mation, independent media journalist

I talked to Flip Moosewinkle and his friend Dal Mation because they were protesting in front of city hall with “Not My President!” signs and other signs that indicated they were liberals because everything was spelled and punctuated correctly.

Flip; “I think conservatives talk without thinking first most of the time.”

Dal; “You have to be careful about making blanket statements like that, though.  It is not backed up by any studies I can find with Google on my i-phone.  And we want to be fair and considerate when making statements about our opponents.”

Flip; “Yes, that’s quite correct.  But a shoot-from-the-hip style of discourse is still common among those we argue politics with.  They’ll accuse us of trying to take away their rights to own guns and won’t even listen when we try to shift the conversation towards gun safety and responsible ownership.  They mostly agree with our positions when it comes right down to it, but they rarely listen to our point of view.  They would rather call us names and chant slogans.”

Dal; “True, but you have to admit they do tend to win arguments that way in public forums.  Maybe we should try some of their tactics, and try to be more forceful in making our case the way they are.”

Flip;  “Do you really want to sink to their level?  Then we’d be no better than they are.”

Dal;  “But isn’t that the point we are trying to make?  Aren’t we all the same and no one is better than anyone else?  Aren’t we trying to be fair and loving to all?”

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Doofy Fuddbugg here is an example of what a “Nolt” is.

Of course, it is at this point in the consideration of the topic that I reach the inevitable conclusion that I am dealing with two different categories of animal here.  One side is patently unfair, and the other is marginalized and ineffectual.  One side is often predatory, while the other is routinely prey.

What do I do about it?  The conservative side has purged themselves of all compromisers, liberal-leaners, and RINO’s (Republican In Name Only, not rhinoceroses).  The liberal side never wins.  (Yes, I know Obama was president, but look how easily he was erased from the public conversation when his term ended.)  There is no place for moderates any more.  To be moderate is to be isolated and headed for species extinction.    So I am a liberal now, hoping the side that is in power at the moment won’t pass a law against my continued existence.  And trying exceptionally hard to fit in with other members of my same species.

 

 

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Filed under angry rant, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney, politics, satire, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life

What the Heck is this Blog About?

I read a lot of other people’s blogs for a lot of reasons.  As an old writing teacher and retired Grammar Nazi, I love to see where writers are on the talent spectrum.  I have read everything from the philosophy of Camus and Kant to the beginning writing of ESL kids who are illiterate in two languages.  I view it like a vast flower garden of varied posies where even the weeds can be considered beautiful.  And like rare species of flower, I notice that many of the best blossoms out there in the blogosphere are consistent with their coloring and patterns.  In other words, they have a theme.

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So, do I have an over-all theme for my blog?  It isn’t purely poetical like some of the poetry blogs I like to read.  I really only write comically bad poetry.  It has photos in it, but it isn’t anything like some of the photography blogs I follow.  They actually know how to photograph stuff and make it look perfect and pretty.  It is not strictly an art blog.  I do a lot of drawing and cartooning and inflict it upon you in this blog.  But I am not a professional artist and can’t hold a candle to some of the painters and artists I follow and sometimes even post about.  I enjoy calling Trump President Pumpkinhead, but I can’t say that my blog is a political humor blog, or that I am even passable as a humorous political commentator.

One thing that I can definitely say is that I was once a teacher.  I was one of those organizers and explainers who stand in front of diverse groups of kids five days a week for six shows a day and try to make them understand a little something.  Something wise.  Something wonderful.  Something new.  Look at the video above if you haven’t already watched it.  Not only does it give you a sense of the power of holding the big pencil, it teaches you something you probably didn’t realize before with so much more than mere words.

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But can I say this is an education blog?  No.  It is far too silly and pointless to be that.  If you want a real education blog, you have to look for someone like Diane Ravitch’s blog.  Education is a more serious and sober topic than Mickey.

By the way, were you worried about the poor bunny in that first cartoon getting eaten by the fox and the bear?  Well, maybe this point from that conversation can put your mind at ease.

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Mickey is tricky and gets good mileage out of his cartoons.

You may have gotten the idea that I like Bobby McFerrin by this point in my post.  It is true.  Pure genius and raw creative talent fascinate me.  Is that the end point of my journey to an answer about what the heck this blog is about?  Perhaps.  As good an answer as any.  But I think the question is still open for debate.  It is the journey from thought through many thoughts to theme that make it all fun.  And I don’t anticipate that journey actually ending anytime soon.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under humor, insight, inspiration, music, Paffooney, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life, word games, wordplay, writing, writing teacher

Wisdom From a Writer’s Life

Don’t get too excited.  I searched every box, trunk, bag of tricks, safe, closet, and jelly bean jar that I have in my rusty old memory.  I didn’t find much.  In fact, the old saying is rather applicable, “The beginning of wisdom is recognizing just how much of a fool you really are.”  The little pile of bottle caps and marshmallows that represent the sum total of my wisdom is infinitely tiny compared to the vast universe of things I will never know and never understand.  I am a fool.  I probably have no more wisdom than you do.  But I have a different point of view.  It comes from years worth of turning my ideas inside out, of wearing my mental underwear on the outside of my mental pants just to get a laugh, of stringing images and stupid-headed notions together in long pointless strings like this one.

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Mason City, Iowa… where I was born.  River City in the musical “The Music Man“.

One thing I can say with certainty, nothing makes you understand “home”, the place you grew up in and think of as where you come from, better than leaving it and going somewhere else.  Federal Avenue in Mason City looks nothing now like it did when I was a boy in the 1960’s going shopping downtown and spending hours in department stores waiting for the ten minutes at the end in the toy section you were promised for being good.  You have to look at the places and people of your youth through the lenses of history and distance and context and knowing now what you didn’t know then.

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Grandpa Aldrich’s farm in Iowa is now Mom and Dad’s house.  It has been in the family for over 100 years, a Century Farm.

The only thing that stays the same is that everything changes.  If I look back at the arc of my life, growing up in Iowa with crazy story-telling skills inherited from Grandpa Aldrich, to going to Iowa State “Cow College” and studying English, to going to University of Iowa for a remedial teaching degree because English majors can’t get jobs reading books, to teaching in distant South Texas more than a thousand miles away, to learning all the classroom cuss words in Spanish the hard way, by being called that, to moving to Dallas/Fort Worth to get fired from one teaching job and taking another that involved teaching English to non-English speakers, to retiring and spending time writing foolish reflections like this one because I am old and mostly home-bound with ill health.  I have come a long way from childhood to second childhood.

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If “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is really true, I should be Superman now.  I look like I’ve seen a lot of Kryptonite, don’t I?

Six incurable diseases and being a cancer survivor since 1983 have left their marks upon me.  Literally.  Little pink bleedy spots all over me are the mark of psoriasis.  The fuzzy-bad photo of me spares you some of the gory details.  The point is, I guess, that life is both fleeting and fragile.  If you never stop and think about what it all means then you are a fool.  If you don’t try to understand it in terms of sentences and paragraphs with main ideas, you are an even bigger fool.  You must write down the fruit of your examinations and ruminations.  But if you reach a point that you are actually satisfied that you know what it all means, that makes you the biggest fool of all.

If I have any wisdom at all to share in this post about wisdom, it can be summed up like this;

  • Writing helps you with knowing, and knowing leads to wisdom.  So take some time to write about what you know.
  • Writing every day makes you more coherent and easier to understand.  Stringing pearls of wisdom into a necklace comes with practice.
  • Writing is worth doing.  Everyone should do it.  Even if you don’t think you can do it well.
  • You should read and understand other people’s wisdom too, as often as possible.  You are not the only person in the world who knows stuff.  And some of their stuff is better than your stuff.
  • The stuff you write can outlive you.  So make the ghost of you that you leave behind as pretty as you can.  Someone may love you for it.  And you can never be sure who that someone will be.

So by now you are probably wondering, where is all that wisdom he promised us in the title?  Look around carefully in this essay.  If you don’t see it there, then you are probably right in thinking, just as I warned you about at the outset, “Gosh darn that Mickey!  He is a really big fool.”

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Filed under autobiography, education, empathy, goofy thoughts, humor, nostalgia, photo paffoonies, psoriasis, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life, wisdom, writing, writing teacher

Pez Head

If you have seen any of my numerous posts about dolls or old books or even, you guessed it, Pez dispensers, you know how badly I am gifted with hoarding disorder.  You know the disease.  Every old string-saving grandpa or scrap-booking maiden aunt you had as a kid had it.  Piles and piles of useless and pointless things all neatly stacked and sorted somewhere in the house, or possibly garage… lurking like a monster of many pieces waiting to take over the whole house.

I can’t help it.  Collections have to be completed.  If you see it and you don’t already have it, you must possess it.  Twenty-seven cents short of the full price with tax included?  Go out to the car and dig in the cup holder.  Oops!  Can’t part with those particular State Quarters.  Will they take that many pennies?  Have to try.

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Lately I have been victimized by a combination of my disorder and the fact that Toys-R-Us is a convenient restroom stop on the rush-hour drive along I-35 to pick up the Princess at her high school in Carrollton, Texas and my son Henry at his school in Lewisville, Texas.  It is a killer two hours and I need to go potty at the halfway point.  And I can’t make my way to the restroom without passing the Pez dispenser display.  And I can’t pass the Pez dispenser display without… well, you know.

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What can I say?  I’m diabetic.  I have to visit the restroom frequently.

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And they do look good on my bookshelves with a lot of the other junk I collect.

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And not all of these are new, bought some time this school year.  In fact, not most of them.

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And they only cost a couple of dollars each.

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And I do resist the urge to buy one once in a while… honest, I really do.

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And see here?  Only Minnie Mouse and Pluto  on this shelf are new.  And how could I leave this collection without Minnie and Pluto?

And it’s not like butterfly collecting, which I shamefully admit I did as a kid.  You don’t kill and mount Pez dispensers.  Although I admit, I really don’t know for sure how their factory works.

But I also have to admit, Pez dispensers aren’t the only thing that turns my collecting urge up to the highest possible settings.

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So don’t hate me for hoarding.  If you’re worried, all of these things are available in stores too.  And I have worked on my photographicalizing skills a bit to share them with you.  And who knows where these treasures will end up when I pass on to the cartoonist’s paint box in the sky?  My daughter has vowed not to let them end up in a landfill somewhere.  Somebody will play with them and love them when I’m finally done.  MAYBE EVEN FUTURE GRANDCHILDREN.   There is a possibility, you know… always a possibility.

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Filed under collecting, foolishness, happiness, humor, photo paffoonies, photos, self portrait, sharing, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Daily Magic

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Daily Magic

The world all around us is magic…

And magic encompasses all,

But sadly the world is not permanent

And tomorrow the darkness may fall.

So here is the magic of daylight

The sun has arisen from pall

And at least for a moment the true light

Is the sun as it voices its call.

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Never Explain

You should never have to explain a poem…

It is there for all to see…

And whether ’tis sick, or happy, or bad…

It is its own reason to be.

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Never Explain… The Sequel

You should never have to explain a joke…

Whether stupid, or ribald, or punny…

Because reasons all melt with explaining…

And, if you do, it’s not really funny.

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Pearls in the Dark

Swim down into deepening darkness.

Do you truly want to find a pearl?

Fish around in oysters and dark places.

Risk your fingers, your hand… hold your breath.

The deeper you dive, the more you risk, the brighter the pearl.

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Write This One Too, Doofus!

Where did these poems suddenly come from?

You are not a poet…

And you already know it…

You meant to write one…

You wrote five…

How was so much doggerel in you?

Goofy wisdom…

Silly rhythm…

Random rhyme?

You’ve been writing these poems all your life…

Every action…

Every footstep…

Every joke…

Is a pearl from the oyster of your soul…

Some are beautiful…

Some are ugly…

All have value…

So don’t question the magic, you fool.

 

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Filed under artwork, goofiness, goofy thoughts, humor, poem, poetry, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life

New Stuff Happens Here

Well, Spring is sproinging with a great green ferocity.  The wisteria that is eating the corner of the house by the pool is blooming.  The pool is full of winter rainwater and must be drained before it begins to bloom millions of mosquitoes.

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So, I rented a pump and started to drain the swamp.  (Yes, I know I could make a joke here about somebody orange who promised to drain the swamp and is instead putting swamp monsters in it…  He got his Supreme Court Scalia Dragon added to the murky deeps of dollar politics yesterday… but I won’t because I hate how the Twitter Baby in Chief is always filling my perceptions with dirty diaper business.)

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I collected some neat new Pez dispensers by stopping at Toys-R-Us to use the restroom halfway through my daily rush-hour trek to pick up my son from his school in Lewisville.

I found Fluttershy to complete the My Little Pony set, and I picked up all three of the Smurfs.  Brainy Smurf is my favorite Smurf because I like the way he constantly gets put down when he is trying to be too smart for his own britches.  It’s really nice when that happens to somebody who isn’t me.

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And when, at midday, I got so stuck in traffic I had to stop and take a break in Hobby Lobby’s air conditioning, I found some HO scale dragons, Pegasus, and a unicorn to add to the denizens of Toonerville.

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So life has generally been good to me, even when it is a little bit bad.

 

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Filed under autobiography, collecting, feeling sorry for myself, happiness, humor, photo paffoonies, photos, self portrait