Category Archives: strange and wonderful ideas about life

Love Life and Live Happy

I hardly ever have a day now where I am not going through some kind of suffering. I have just been through rainy days that make my arthritis sore to crippling levels of hurting-ness. Okay, that’s not a real word, so let’s say hurtyness… not a real word either, but funnier sounding. I have been through a number of months of budget-squeezing economic pain, not making enough to afford medicine the doctor orders, or even enough for the doctor’s visit so he can tell me what expensive medicines (like insulin) that I may need to stay alive and yell at me for not taking the medicine I used to be on and couldn’t afford anymore. The news is unrelenting with pandemic infections out of control and death tolls rising while the criminal we elected in 2016 screams that it is all the fault of radical ANTIFA Democrats like me (ANTIFA meaning anybody against fascism) and we are entirely to blame for everything, and we better be opening schools soon or he will cut education funds again… and even more… and make us put up Betsy DeVos posters in our bedrooms so she can watch us sleep and make us have nightmares about schools because we had the audacity to be educators and pro-public-school advocates.

So, maybe, you think, I am bitter and hate my life. Ha! No! If I had it all to do over again, I would not change a thing!

One bad kid my first year nicknamed me “Mr. Gilligan” as if I were a skinny, dopey fool. For years afterward my classroom was known as Gilligan’s Island. I loved it!

Two times in my life I have had a job that I hated. Both were teaching jobs. Each of them only lasted for one year. The first time, my very first teaching job, I came back the second year to a new principal and mostly new kids. I worked really hard and turned it into a job I loved for the next 23 years. The second time was a job for a principal who was decidedly dictatorial and hated by most of the staff. She ended up firing me because I liked black and brown kids too much, and it resulted in me finding a much better job which I loved for seven more years. I have never regretted becoming a teacher. In fellow faculty and the vast majority of over two thousand students, I encountered some of the most interesting and best people I have ever known. Including my wife. Now, when pain and suffering are lonelier things to deal with than the hubbub and struggle of daily school life, I have all of that to look back upon and remember and grin insanely about with high levels of life-satisfaction. Doing things you love to do is a key to happiness.

This is called “A Portrait of Mark Twain with Drumsticks Involved”

Another reason I am in love with life in spite of it all is the chance I had to be an artist and express myself through drawing, painting, coloring, and telling stories. As you can see by this blog, I have done a lot of doodling since I discovered I could draw at somewhere around the ripe old age of four. And because I rarely throw artwork away, I have a lot of it to share. Some of it I am very proud of. The stuff I am ashamed of that I have not trashed, I am only mildly ashamed of.

I claim to be humorist. Some of my best stories can make you laugh. And some of my drawings can too.

But not every part of the world of humor is about laughing, chortling, giggling, snickering, or full-blown donkey-like hee-haws. Some humor only makes you smile.

Some humor is gentle and thoughtful, even ironic.

And some of the best humor calls up truths and feelings that can bring you to tears.

But all of us “normal” human beans love to laugh (or even groan about that bean-pun) and laughter is good for us. Expressing yourself through art, especially if it makes us laugh, is another reason I love being alive.

Being dead, of course, makes it awful hard to laugh. This is why I generally try to avoid being dead. But thoughts of death can too easily become a way of life. That is why I try to put fear and anger and Republican Senators from Texas far away from me. They will not take me out of my laughing place while I am still alive.

Stand resolute against evil and protect the ones you love.

And most important of all, you need to love life because of love itself. Now, I am not saying anything about sex here. Not that sex isn’t a good thing, and that it doesn’t pop into your old head every time you think about love, but that sex isn’t the most important part of love. It is possible to love everybody unconditionally. As much as Mark Twain and I both complain a lot about “That damned human race!” we both understand that the most wonderful thing about people is that, in spite of the fact that the word “people” is a little label on a very big thing… they are, in fact, an ever-expanding balloon of infinitely hilarious and detestable and cuddly things that threaten to pop at any moment and spew weird and wild personalities all over the damned universe. No matter how much you hate some people, or even if you hate people generally, loving people is the spicy Italian meat sauce on the spaghetti pile of your life. So, do some acts of pure gluttony upon it, and just be happy to be alive.

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Filed under autobiography, battling depression, commentary, happiness, humor, Mark Twain, mental health, Paffooney, philosophy, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Why I’m Never Alone

There are voices in my stupid old head. But don’t worry. They are not dog voices telling me brunettes need to be shot with a .44. They are echoing voices. Voices of loved ones, voices of students, voices of random amusing people I have known and how they talk, the many voices of Robin Williams, and, of course, the singing voice of Roy Rogers.

I really don’t know how many times I traveled down dark and dangerous pathways with, “Happy trails to you…” echoing in my stupid head. It helped me through surgery. It helped me through hospitalization for a “That EKG could mean you are having a heart attack right now.” It wasn’t a heart attack. It helped me with the meeting with a judge for my Chapter 13 bankruptcy… which was caused by the coulda-been heart attack.

I hear the voices of departed relatives too. My sweet old Reagan-Republican Grandma Beyer comes back to me talking about magazine ads in “Look” magazine in the early seventies.

“Now, those children are positively up to no good. Look at the expressions on their evil little faces. Do you really believe they are merely going to eat that food? Or are they going to make someone wear it, scare it, or underwear it?

“And look at the neon-blue eyes those youngsters have! Do you suppose that orange juice is radioactive or something? It certainly doesn’t look like its doing them any good health-wise to be drinking that much. They look wired!”

Or when she saw TV Guide’s picture from the mini-series “V” in the 80’s.

“Land Sakes! That’s one pretty awful skin condition that poor man has. I certainly wouldn’t want to get infected with that!”

media.npr.org

And there’s always the voice of Mark Twain lurking in the back of my brain watching for a chance to remark on something and make me laugh.

“I don’t like to commit myself about Heaven and Hell… You see, I have friends in both places.”

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to any vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

“The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”

“No amount of evidence will ever persuade an idiot.”

“Okay, you can shut up now, Mark, before I laugh myself to death,” I replied.

And then there’s all those imaginary people that my own demented psyche gave birth to and now live in my fiction. They follow me around everywhere too, making comments, encouraging me, sometimes discouraging me, and always making me forget that I am actually talking to myself. I write down a lot of what they say. It becomes the basis for another book or two, or possibly twenty.

So, you see, I am rarely lonely. My mind is never quiet. And there’s always a conversation going on, no matter that I am completely alone and no one is saying anything at all out loud.

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Filed under autobiography, being alone, commentary, humor, imagination, Mark Twain, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Pontification

Yes, I am guilty. Yes, I will probably do a lot of it in this essay. Do I make stuff up out of thin air to support my pontifications? Well, I try not to… most of the time.

That bit of pontification I just shared is not mine. It’s Vonnegut’s. But it is pontification never-the-less.

To be fair, this manner of delivering information, founded on the basis of revealed Divine authority (as if I were the Pope) is not an evil thing… if it is not misused to propagate misinformation and lies. It is often used to convey moral imperatives and Christian values. And to be fair to me, I rarely pontificate unless I am joking and don’t mean to be taken seriously.

Never-the-less I am often told that my fiction is didactic and my essays tend to hold forth with my convictions and conclusions as if they were revealed to me in a visitation from a burning bush or something.

From my humble perspective, however, I wish to point out that I have, through years of teaching experience and encounters with grave issues that affect health and wealth and happiness, learned a few things the hard way that count as wisdom. I would offer the defense that, in spite of what my wife would tell you, I am NOT always wrong about everything. (I am maybe only wrong about most things.) And as such, my opinions, backed up with facts and anecdotes, are sometimes worth listening to.

As I am probably not going to overcome my habit of pontificating any time soon, I should probably warn you about some of the things I have been thinking about of late that I am likely to pontificate about in upcoming blogs. Here are just a few;

  1. Bad things that happen to Good People are what actually turn them into Good People.
  2. The reverse is not always true. Good things happening to Bad People can worsen them, but they become Bad People when the good thing we are talking about is getting away with doing something bad.
  3. The world is coming to its end. Of course, it is always coming to its end, until it reaches its endpoint at which it probably won’t end and then the prophets of doom will have to pick a new Doomsday that probably won’t end it either… though it might.
  4. The St. Louis Blues hockey team gets to be Stanley Cup Champions for two years in a row because of the pandemic. COVID 19 was only 99% a bad thing.
  5. If you are a three-inch tall fairy warrior, a rabbit as your faithful steed is better than riding rooster-back. That’s because if the spell wears off your mighty steed, the rabbit won’t mistake you for a bug and eat you. (But never disguise yourself as a carrot to hide from humans while riding rabbit-back.)

So, I admit to having bouts of rabid pontification. But I would argue that it is a very natural bad habit for a retired school teacher to have. Up until my retirement I regularly delivered the Word of God (as filtered through the Texas State Board of Education) to kids in a classroom.

They would often respond, “Oh, God! Not again!”

To which I would answer, “I am not God. If I were, there would be lightning right now.”

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Filed under angry rant, humor, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Thanks for the Memories, Frances Gumm

Little Frances Gumm from Minnesota

She is older than both my mother and my father. In fact, if she were alive today, if she hadn’t died young when I was thirteen, she would be 98, and approaching the century mark. She was born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota in 1922.

And even though that’s right next door to where I was born in Mason City, Iowa, we were never really neighbors. Our families never met in person, and didn’t know diddly-boo about each other.

But she had a profound impact on our lives. And, boy! Could she ever sing and dance!

The Singing Gumm Sisters.
A little bit older Frances Gumm

I don’t know why she ever felt that way, but Frances from childhood onward was always desperate to not be seen as fat.

She took pills to keep the weight off. She eventually had to take pills to sleep at night. Pills would make her suffer through most of her life. In fact, pills would eventually take her life.

But Frances Gumm would have an impact on my life. Frances would have an impact on my parents’ generation through the movie theater, back when you paid a dime to watch a movie projected on a white sheet tacked up on the Rowan firehouse wall. And she had an impact on my generation when we watched her on TV, mostly in black and white like we saw Meet Me in St. Louis. But also around Thanksgiving time. That movie they played every year.

Yes, Frances was a movie star.

But she didn’t go by the name she was born with in the movies.

And, boy! Could she ever sing!

And now that I am old and fragile, that song can make me cry. Like it did just now. And why?

Because Frances Gumm taught me something important when I was a little boy. Something that stuck with me for a lifetime.

While it’s true that there is no place like home, we are allowed to think about what is over the rainbow… and even to go there… and back again.

And I owe Frances for that memory. Especially because she had to struggle so hard to give me that. Frances, I will always love you for it.

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Filed under autobiography, Celebration, inspiration, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Quirks and Minor Crazy Things

There is considerable evidence that I am not a totally normal human being, or as Danny Murphy used to say “A normal human bean”. Danny is, by the way, a character in several of my novels, including Snow Babies and When the Captain Came Calling. He did the complete Circle Streak (running around the entire high school campus buck naked in a huge and chilly circle) more than once. And he was based entirely on one of my high school classmates and friends. That bird-walk about streaking is an example of the kind of quirks I am guilty of when I am being totally not-normal. I am now entirely off topic and must pull it back to defend myself by saying, “Nobody else is a totally normal human bean either!”

Among my many quirks and oddities is my love of baseball and slavish dedication to the St. Louis Cardinals baseball club. My favorite World Series memories are from 1934, 22 years before I was born. Dizzy Dean was a 30-game winner pitching for the Cardinals. Joe “Ducky” Medwick was their star hitter, and in the 6th inning he hit a triple and slid hard into the third baseman with his cleats up (a trick learned from former Detroit Tiger Ty Cobb) and the Tiger fans lost their cool in a big way (they were behind 9-0 at the time in the deciding 7th game). They began throwing things at Joe as he tried to play left field. He nearly missed an easy fly ball because somebody threw an orange and almost hit his glove. It is the only time in baseball history that a baseball commissioner had to eject a player from a World Series game for his own protection. (Needless to say, I love to hate the Tigers.)

I also love all the other ten times the Cardinals have won the Series, and I am proud of the eight times they nearly won besides.

Another of my odd quirks is a love of nudity in spite of my skin condition that prevents me from comfortably being a nudist. I first encountered nudism in a clothing-optional apartment complex where my girlfriend’s sister lived in Austin. I went from being shocked almost to apoplexy, to my girlfriend’s overwhelming amusement, to rejecting a chance to try nudism in the late 80’s, to actually spending a day at a Texas nudist park in 2017, and really enjoying the experience. My children are mortified.

And this quirk affects my fiction. I have some characters in a few of my stories based specifically on nudists I have known. I also wrote an entire novel, A Field Guide to Fauns, about a boy learning to live with his father and step-mother in a residential nudist park. Additionally, I have irrationally tried to use the word “penis” in every novel I have written. I only failed to do so when some editors insisted on its removal. So, I believe I may be 12 for 16 on that score.

But this particular quirk, no matter how totally embarrassing my children find it, is not a sexual perversion. I don’t write porn. And, as a survival matter after being sexually assaulted as a child, my nudity fixation has helped me to accept that I am not evil and unworthy when I am naked. My attacker had me convinced otherwise for more than twenty years.

I am also an aficionado of science fiction, classical music, and a faith that tells me rabbits make better people than people do.

My books are divided, for the most part, into Cantos instead of Chapters. This is because of my love for Classical Music and my dedication to the weird notion that novels should be more like epic poetry. Not necessarily written in verse, though if I ever get to write Music in the Forest, that one is written as poetry.

But paragraphs need to be written as purely poetically as perfect white pearls are poetically pearly.

But as poetry, my tendency towards comedy rather than drama or tragedy, leads me to write purple paisley prose (like all this p-word nonsense) which makes my paragraphs more Scherzo than Nocturne, Sonata, or Symphony.

While researching alien invasions for the novel Catch a Falling Star, the story of when aliens from deep space tried to invade Iowa, I came across internet information that ignited another quirky passion of mine, studying conspiracy theories. And it isn’t all just a plot to embarrass my children in front of people we know in real life. Although that is a definite side benefit. But conspiracies are an excellent source material for making humor. Comedy gold. Knowing who people like Alex Jones, David Icke, and Jesse Ventura are, gives me not only easily ridiculed personalities to make fun of, but also windows into thinking habits that may or may not turn up some real anomalies in the world of science and so-called historical fact. For instance, I can credibly argue that there is more to the Roswell Crash story than the government is willing to tell us about, and Lee Harvey Oswald did not kill JFK by himself, if at all.

And besides, my boyhood friend Robert was part of my small-town gang when we fought off the alien invasion in the 60’s, and he told me on Facebook that he remembered when that happened. Good old Bobby. He really likes beer and alcohol.

And I could go on like this for an entire book’s worth of silly jabber. But this post has to end for today. This blog, after all, isn’t the only quirky and crazy thing I have to attend to.

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Filed under aliens, autobiography, baseball, baseball fan, classical music, conspiracy theory, goofy thoughts, Paffooney, St. Louis, strange and wonderful ideas about life, writing humor

Success is All in My Head

Like any Indie writer who has had enough of paying publishers to publish my work, any tiny bit of success is immediately seized upon and cherished, and immediately all goes into my head to swell the ego and make me strut like a rooster in the barnyard who doesn’t realize the next step for him is either the stew-pot or the oven.

I have read enough Indie books to realize that a vast majority of them are written by strutting roosters that, once their head is removed, still won’t realize that they are not the greatest writer since Hemingway and Faulkner. (They can’t compare themselves to Donald Barthelme, or James Thurber, or J.D. Salinger because most of them have never heard of those writers, let alone read anything like City Life, My Life and Hard Times, or Franny and Zooey.) I confess… At least I know I am no Hemingway or Faulkner. But I continue to protect my delusion that I am a good writer of young adult novels.

But this week I got more sugar pills for the ego in the form of reviews and evidence that people are actually reading my books.

My teacher story, Magical Miss Morgan got read at least twice on Amazon Prime, one of those yielding another 4-star review. And A Field Guide to Fauns got its first review, a 5-star review, that can be seen here;http://tvhost.co.uk/april-and-may-reading

That review is written by a fellow author whose novels also contain nudist characters like the Field Guide does.

So, a little bit of success like that makes the old heart keep pumping with hope. But I am still a long way from any kind of financial proof or critical acclaim sort of proof that I am a successful writer. Any notions of success are still all in my head. And that’s where they really ought to be. After all, it is only my belief that my writing is worth doing that will cause any more of it to happen. And more of it should happen. Otherwise my head might explode. And wouldn’t that be a terrible mess?

A road map to the inside of my stupid head. I’m sure there’s a bit of success in there somewhere.

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Filed under book review, commentary, humor, maps, novel writing, Paffooney, publishing, strange and wonderful ideas about life, writing humor

Hope and Beauty

Forgive me for putting a picture of a bear-chested girl in this post.

It has been my intention for a while now to tell funny stories on Friday. Specifically, funny stories about being a teacher and dealing with kids, the thing I know best in life. But, with the things that have happened, the pandemic, the screwball gangster President and his Friday follies, ill health, and other things pressing on my mind, I have failed rather badly.

So, bear with me (pun intended) as I give it another try with a story about Hope and Beauty.

Going back to the last millennium, in the year 1996, I had one solitary class of sixth grade English while teaching mostly seventh graders in a school building that was being renovated while we were learning within it. Often to the sound of electric drills and hammering. (A new wing was being added as our junior high school of grades 7 and 8 was being magically transformed by a school grant, and the addition of 6th graders, to become a middle school.

Esperanza and Bonita were the leaders of that sixth grade class. Fourteen kids, 7 girls and 7 boys. Esperanza and Bonita were the leaders because they were the two biggest 6th graders in the whole school. Not biggest by weight, the fattest boy in 6th grade was also in that class. The most mature. Bonita was hoping to go out for boys’ football in seventh grade, because she had been told that girls had won the right in court to play football if they wished. And she loved to tackle boys. The midgets in that 6th grade class were all terrified of her. One of the midgets spent his 6th-grade days pining in the back row to sit next to her but was too afraid to ever tell her that.

You may already know that this is not Bonita. It is the character in my book The Bicycle-Wheel Genius that I turned her into.

Esperanza and Bonita were best friends, and they were also the two best students in my class. They sat side by side in the front row. They would answer every single question in class if I let them. Of course, I didn’t let them. I got as much of a laugh out of other students’ wrong answers as they did. They were merciless about every goof Sammy Sanchez made, but Sammy had a good sense of humor about it, and I swear, he made some mistakes on purpose just because he loved to hear Esperanza laughing. She was probably the prettiest girl in 6th grade and had an equally pretty laugh. (That is not, of course, Sammy’s real name. I protect students’ real names in my writing. But the double S’s in his name were paired with the word “Stupid” in real life.) I was fond of both girls. And most of the time they were fond of me too.

“You’re my favorite teacher,” Esperanza once told me. “It’s because we can really talk about stuff in your class. Not just book stuff. But real-life stuff.”

Most of the “stuff” she meant was in journal writing that they did at the beginning of class. That is where I learned that she was a virgin. And it was where I advised her that it was entirely up to her when she gave it up and to whom. I told her no boy had the right to pressure her into doing anything she didn’t want to do. I gave similar advice to the boy in question privately after school, and he was actually a bit relieved to get the advice. I know that I was overstepping boundaries to give such advice. But they both believed that nobody else would ever be told about it. I was the only one who read that journal entry, and they knew that. And I have never told it until now, a fact about which you still don’t know the real names to go with it.

That class wanted badly to have a “class party” after Spring Break when the year was winding down. I only agreed if they would turn it into a learning experience. So, Esperanza and Bonita took charge. They planned and executed the lesson; “How to make and appreciate different kinds of Mexican Food”. The two of them taught it. Bonita was in charge of discipline. Esperanza taught us about all the ingredients in her aunt’s prize-winning sopapillas. Sammy gave us a memorable and even remotely possible run-down on how Doritos were probably made. And Max, the white kid, shared his Grandma’s recipe for German chocolate cake. You can’t get better Mexican food than that. And a certain mournful midget got to sit next to Bonita while they ate cake.

Both girls were in my class for two more years after that. I had the honor of being their teacher in both the seventh and the eighth grade.

As an eighth grader, Bonita broke my heart with a story she wrote about forgiving her stepfather for beating her in the third grade. It was a beautiful story. But I was torn. Teachers, by law, have to report child abuse. But Bonita pointed out that the man no longer lived with her, and besides, the assignment was to write a fiction story. (I never told anybody but my wife about my being sexually assaulted at the age of ten at that point in my life, but it was the reason I could clearly see what was true and what was fiction.) That story made more than just me cry.

And in the end, Bonita never got a chance to play boys’ football in middle school… or high school either. The boys eventually got bigger, and she didn’t. But that was a good thing too. Bonita at linebacker… the boys would never have survived it.

I will end by letting you in on a secret. In Spanish, Esperanza means “Hope,” and Bonita means “Little Pretty One,” or even “Beauty.”

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Filed under autobiography, education, humor, kids, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, teaching

Why Wizards Write Writing That’s Wonky

To be a wizard is to be wise. Look at the word origin if you don’t believe me.

wizard (n.) early 15c., “philosopher, sage,” from Middle English wys “wise” (see wise (adj.)) + -ard . Compare Lithuanian žynystė “magic,” žynys “sorcerer,” žynė “witch,” all from žinoti “to know.” (Wisely plagiarized from http://www.etymonline.com/word/wizard)

Mickey, the old fool that he is, thinks of himself as a wizard

Mickey is a wizard. He writes down foolish things like that because he knows that the beginning of wisdom is to recognize that you are no more than a fool. You can laugh, but it’s true. Some wise guy that I am paraphrasing here said so. So, that makes it true

Don’t believe me? Want to debate me?

Have you taken the step yet of recognizing your own foolishness?

How can you be wise if you never take the first step down the path to wisdom?

And what defines a wizard, is that a wizard writes. He must write his wisdom down. Otherwise there are no fruits of his wisdom. I tend to write mostly strawberry wisdom. That kind of fruit is tart and sweet in season, but sours easily and spoils in hot weather and dry kitchens. Blueberry fruits are probably better. They become tarter and sweeter with dryness, kinda like good humor and subtle jokes. But enough of the fruit-metaphor nonsense. The best fruit of wisdom is the Bradbury fruit. I confess to having eaten often of Bradbury Pie. Dandelion Wine and The Illustrated Man leap to mind, but there are far more Bradbury Pies than that.

My latest published Beyer-berry Pie.

So, if Mickey is a wizard, and wise wizards write wisdom, then where do we get Beyer-berry Pie?

The strawberry-flavored pies are found in the My Books page of this blog, though the author’s page on Amazon is a more up-to-date list.

Here’s a link https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Beyer/e/B00DL1X14C/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Recently the fool of a wizard, Mickey, planned to set up a free-promotion weekend for A Field Guide to Fauns.

The foolishness begins tomorrow.

Of course, I probably can’t give away a single copy. Potential readers will see that there are naked people in this book about nudists and automatically think that Mickey is too weird and crazy to be a good writer. But good writers like Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut can be bizarre in their writing too. (I wonder what Vonnegut-berry Pie would taste like? I must read Cat’s Cradle again, for the third time.) Probably at least blueberry-flavored, if not gooseberry.

But even failed wizards can write wizardly writing if they write with wit and, possibly, with real wisdom,

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, there you have it. The full measure of the wacky wizard’s wisdom written down by the wise-fool-wizard Mickey.

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Filed under humor, insight, irony, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, wisdom, writing

Red, Yellow, and Blue

That Last Battle

The three primary colors of paint are red, yellow, and blue. Together with the neutrals, white and black, these colors can be mixed to make any other shade, tone, or hue that exists on the color wheel and can be perceived by the human eye. When all three are present in a painting, it inherently has a feeling of completeness, wholeness, and balance.

Young Prinz Flute

How those primaries are mixed, allowed to dominate, or allowed to recede does a lot to determine the feeling the artwork projects into the viewer’s mind.

Great Grandma Hinckley as I most vividly remember her.

All of the artworks I am showing you today haven’t appeared in my blog for some time. But all of them are interpreted in primary colors. I won’t tell you how each picture is supposed to make you feel. I am just the artist. Only you can prevent forest fires, and only you can interpret a painting and tell someone else how it makes you feel.

The Wolf Girl and Dunderella
the Island Girl
Gilligan’s Island
Annelise in Gingerbread Town
Chiron’s School for Heroes
Long Ago It Might Have Been
The Sea Witch

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Filed under artwork, coloring, drawing, humor, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

On the Fritz

On this Star Wars Day (May the 4th be with you) I am a little perturbed that practically everything, including Star Wars, is on the fritz. My computer is on the fritz. It starts all sorts of programs and actions within programs without being prompted by a keystroke or click command. The picture I posted at the start of this essay had to be downloaded from Google twice because it downloaded the wrong selection for no reason. And then it had to be pasted into the block editor twice also because the first attempt failed to finish the transition.

Of course, for something “to be on the fritz” and be well understood, it would help if we knew the origin of the phrase. Unhelpfully, no one really knows how it was initially used. Was it a reference to something about Germans? “Fritz” was a common nickname for German soldiers in two world wars. But probably not. Germans are not always haywire.

I think it far more likely that the word is an onomatopoeia for the sound a radio makes when there is a short, it sparks, and then malfunctions, if not catches fire. That seems to me to be a much more fitting image to use for the way my computer works today with its faulty keyboard, and/or mouse pad. It also is a fitting definition for the condition our economy is in due to the pandemic.

But on this Star Wars Day, it is the most apt phrase to describe what has been done to the Star Wars Saga. Don’t get me wrong. I am an uncritical critic. I loved the Rise of Skywalker in the movie theater. The images and the action were great. But the writer in me did not appreciate how wires were crossed in the making of the latest trilogy. The resulting dumpster fire, while colorful and visually entertaining, caused the power of the story to be definitely “on the fritz”.

Character arcs were ruined. Kylo Ren went from evil secondary antagonist to big bad to heroic turn-around to… what? His character dies and disappears at the end. Why? How did he complete his arc?

Rey went from child of nobody to Jedi to possible Sith Lord to…? Where does she end up? Palpatine tells her if she kills him, his spirit will infuse her with Super Dark Side Power. She kills him anyway? Will she now try to destroy the universe in the next trilogy?

And what did Finn do besides ride a horse-thing in space?

But I’m not complaining. Even if the pandemic is going to kill me shortly, I have had a good life. I have seen all the Marvel movies so far. I taught English to well over 2,000 kids in a thirty-year teaching career. I wrote fifteen novels that I published. And no amount of sparks, fire, or fritzing is capable of changing all of that.

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