As a comic cartoonist sort of artist named Mickey, I was as a teenager obsessed with making artsy goofy books. One of those was unaccountably called Dreams of the Mastiff. These surrealistic picturations are examples from that silly Donald-Duck thing.
This page is supposed to explain the title. So I guess all of the following pages are somehow supposed to be from the nighttime brain of the dog in the nursery.
And what is this supposed to be about? My old-man memory has not a single clue.
It occurred to me long ago that both Fantasy and Science Fiction were surreal by nature. What is the story behind Black Peter? Ich weiss nicht! I do not know! Old-man memory again.
Inexplicable Sci-Fi from this little surrealist art-book-thing.
And more of the same…
Now back to cockroaches from doggy dreams…
…And mice, monkeys, and tea-drinking ladybird beetles…
…And what…? The whole world in a nutshell?
To a thing I used in two novels, Catch a Falling Star and The Baby Werewolf.
I offer no explanations or excuses for these nonsensical and unaccountable things. I am not sorry I once did them, if you want to know the truth… but I probably should be.
I feel the need to take up the subject of a role playing game that I planned for and played to a limited degree, but explored to the point of insanity.
But I am recovering now from the double-danged downers of taking care of my bankruptcy case and paying off a surprise new tax penalty that nearly sank my little boat. Therefore, I can’t go into this in depth until my mind is more fortified against the depredations of Yog Sothoth.
So, next week I will begin talking endlessly and listlessly about the infinite insanity of Call of Cthulhu, the role-playing game. In a gibbering, half-insane manner, I will describe the playing of a game where you confront the depths of human darkness in an indifferent and terrifying world. And I will attempt to explain why a school teacher in his right mind (as much as a middle school teacher can be in his right mind) would ever take up such a game. So, stay tuned to Mickey the Dungeon Master’s silly little Saturday D&D blog.
Surrealism is basically the putting together of things that don’t go together to realistically portray what is not real. And sometimes it can be done in ways that you don’t realize are, in fact, examples of surrealism, unless you look at it and think about it more carefully. So, can you tell me why “The Wizard of Edo” above is surrealism?
This one is obvious even though I used photographs to draw every single element.
Cartoons, especially bizarre cartoons, are all surrealistic, though not all of them lack subtlety as much as this one does.
Some surrealism is highly horrific unless you think of this as merely a portrait of Boris Karloff in make-up.
It is inherent in surrealism that the images are going to make you stop and think about what it means.
There was a time when relatives might have told me that this was a realistic picture of my two sons. However, they didn’t tell me that since I drew it sixteen years before my eldest son was born.
So, is there anything at all surreal about this picture? Besides the fact that Sherry Cobble couldn’t arrive at school naked, I mean?
I am fascinated by the darker alleyways in the city of human thought. I love monster movies, those love-story tragedies where the monster is us with one or more of our basic flaws pumped up to the absolute maximum. We are all capable of becoming a monster. There are consequences to every hurtful thing we have ever thought or ever said to other people, especially the people we love.
The monster movies I love most are the old black and whites from Universal Studios. But I can also seriously enjoy the monsters of Hammer Films, and even the more recent remakes of Frankenstein, The Mummy, and their silly sequels. I am fascinated by the Creature from the Black Lagoon because it is the story of a total outsider who is so different he can’t really communicate with the others he meets. All he can do is grab the one that attracts him and strike out at those who cause him pain. It occurs to me that I am him when having an argument with my wife. Sometimes I am too intelligent and culturally different to talk to her and be understood. She gets mad at me and lashes out at me because when I am trying to make peace she thinks I am somehow making fun of her. How do you convince someone of anything if they always think your heartfelt apology is actually sarcasm? How do you share what’s in your heart if they are always looking for double meaning in everything you say?
But other people can change into monsters too. I am not the only one. People who are bitter about how their life seems to have turned out can strike out at others like the Mummy. Wrapped in restrictive wrappings of what they think should have been, and denied the eternal rest of satisfaction over the way the past treated them, they attack with intent to injure, even just with hurtful words, because their past sins have animated them with a need to change the past, though the time is long past when they should’ve let their bitterness simply die away.
And we might all of us fall into the trap of Victor Frankenstein’s monster, who never asked to be made. He finds life to be an unmanageable nightmare with others constantly assaulting him with the pitchforks and torches of their fear and rejection.
But the thing about monster movies… at least the good ones, is that you can watch it to the end and see the monster defeated. We realize in the end that the monster never really wins. He can defeat the monstrous qualities within himself and stop himself. Or the antidote to what ails him is discovered (as Luke did with Darth Vader). Or we can see him put to his justifiable end and remember that if we should see those qualities within ourselves, we should do something about it so that we do not suffer the same fate. Or, better yet, we can learn to laugh at the monstrosity that is every-day life. Humor is a panacea for most of life’s ills.
Try not to be upset with me for drawing a naked lady. You see, she is not really a lady, she is a caryatid, a stone pillar for holding up a building. Besides, I have been recently very ill, and drawing naked ladies makes me happy, even though it is a sin and means I will probably burn in hell. I am a hopeless sinner in this regard. I got kicked off Pinterest for liking an oil painting of a naked lady. I think it was a painting by William Adolphe Bouguereau. How could I be so terrible? You should check out my post about his sinful, horrible paintings so you can see how terrible I am for yourself. (Bouguereau) Of course, This post is not about naked ladies at all, so why am I fuming and ranting and telling all my darkest secrets about that?
This post is about architecture, about giving structure to things, about holding things together and holding things up. Is it clever that I drew this picture of an ornate pillar and placed it in this post so it looks like it is standing on later paragraphs and holding up the introduction? I find weird surrealist things like that help me write stuff that makes a few people laugh. It helps me because I can focus on nonsensical side-stuff like that (mixed up with obscure puns and alliterations like “pillar” and “placed” that, when cooked together with goofy rhythms in over-long sentences end up sounding funnier than they really are), and then I can say stuff that is actually funny because I don’t realize how wrong, or weird, or silly some of these words I am futzing it all up with truly are. (And I am amazed that the Pinterest police haven’t come and kicked me off WordPress for using a word like “futzing”, even though they don’t know what it means. Heck, even the spell-checker didn’t object to the word!)
But someone like me who is trying to be funny needs structure more than anyone else you can think of. Why? Because the sad-clown-crying-on-the-inside is so very true. The dark dips of depression… pain, illness, and more pain… family stress from others in my family who also suffer… That’s what makes the laughing so very necessary. You need the lighter stuff to fill up the room (somewhat like a really big fart) because you depend on the sheer buoyancy of it to lift the entire house up and keep it from sinking to the very center of the earth. (And the stink of it can also help keep you awake when otherwise you might never get out of bed again)… (But please don’t light any matches around my house.)
So, in conclusion, this stuff I write does have basic structures, basic rules. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It has a theme, a point that needs to be made, And then it needs to end with some kind of a kicker line or punch line… because when that finally hits me square in the face (like a pie thrown by a pie-whacker clown), it helps me remember… I am still alive, and I can still laugh about it.
Yesterday was a weird day. If you looked carefully at the mental map I made of Mickey’s head the other day, you realize that Uncle Slappy’s Big Box of Weirdness occupies a key position in the top center. I had a traffic accident in the parking lot of Long Middle School yesterday morning, banging bumpers with a lady named Vilma. The sun was in my eyes, and she started to go, then suddenly stopped for no reason I could see. No damage was done to anything but my pride. My wife put her parents, Tatang and Inang, on an airplane yesterday bound for the Philippine Islands, going home for a visit. Afterwards, my wife was feeling mortal, betting me that she was going to die before me even though I have the head start of six incurable diseases and surviving cancer once already. There are no symptoms for her impending heart attack, so I will probably win that bet. But the point is, it was a weird time yesterday to stumble weirdly over a weird and wacky movie on Netflix called Moonrise Kingdom. It is a Romeo and Juliet sort of story about two twelve-year-olds who fall in love at first sight, and though their families try to keep them apart, they end up together. Thankfully it is not a Shakespearian Tragedy where everybody dies at the end, though Sam is struck by lightning and the big storm nearly drowns all the boy scouts. It is more like a Shakespearian Comedy where everybody gets married at the end, though the twelve-year-olds don’t get married at the end… rather, they are married by the middle.
Wes Anderson is the genius director behind movies like;
None of which I have seen, but now have to watch ALL of them sooner or later. Kinda like the mad quest to see every Tim Burton movie ever made. I am one of the few idiots out there who think Dark Shadows was a truly wonderful movie, and along with Edward Scissor-hands, one of the finest things Johnny Depp has ever done.
In Moonrise Kingdom Anderson uses tracking shots at the beginning that shift quickly from one room to the next in a way that invokes an old-time slide show. The story is set in 1965 in Maine, and is filled with all kinds of iconic references to things we 60’s kids all vividly recall.
The movie also tells the love story of Sam and Suzy with a painter’s sense of iconic pictures that focus you on important plot points and themes.
And there are numerous quotable bits that make the movie what we teachers refer to as a text-rich environment, complete with phony kids’ books and maps and notes.
The all-star cast is pretty good, too.
This is now one of my new favorite movies. It is a happy-ending-type fairy tale with no fairies in it. It is full of ineffectual and incompetent adults who have rules of behavior like grown-ups and motivations like goofy kids… just like real life. The plot is driven by the notion that anything you do in life is a mistake, and mistakes have consequences, but you have to do them anyway because, well… that’s life.
Am I telling you that you should watch this movie too? Well, you should… but, no. I am simply gushing about this quirky movie because I like it, and yesterday was a very weird day.
Once I was finally able to scan pictures again, I did some scanning of old pictures that only got the camera treatment before on my blog.
But why stop a drawing at just the pen and ink, when there is potential for so much more?
So, I took the Microsoft generic paint program and my generic photo editor to not only this pen and ink of the Jungle Princess, but a few other pictures as well.
This is what she looks like after being attacked with color by my arthritic old hands. (There was a day when I could have handled intricate details more cleverly, but that was many, many days ago.
Anyway, I have added new dimensions to Leopard Girrrl with color.
Now I need to add more complications to the basic story of the picture.
Here is an older pen and ink.
This is Dorin Dobbs, one of the dueling plotlines’ protagonists from the novel Catch a Falling Star.
But, of course, Dorin is a more complex character than this old black and white.
So, color needs to be added.
I had this one actually already painted in…
But in order to use it in this project, I needed to enlarge it to make it fit into the other picture.
Making this unlikely pair work together in a story is one of the challenges of doing surrealist stories. They have to be grounded in realism, but also bring jarringly different things together. Like the Jungle Princess going on an adventure with Norwall’s Lying King.
But, putting these two together is still not enough. Let’s try some other things.
The Jungle Princess together with Tomboy Dilsey Murphy is an unusual pairing.
Or what about the blue faun from Laughing Blue?
Or even Annette Funicello?
Ridiculous, I know. But don’t they look like satin sofa paintings?
You know how creepy penguins in cartoons can be, right? The Penguins of Madagascar are like a Mission-Impossible Team gone horribly wrong and transformed into penguins. The penguin in Wallace and Gromit’s The Wrong Trousers disguised himself as a chicken to perform acts of pure evil. Cartoonists all know that penguins are inherently creepy and evil.
I recently learned a hard lesson about penguins. You know the joke, “What’s black and white and red all over? A penguin with a sunburn.” I told that joke one too many times. Who knew the Dallas metroplex had so many loose penguins lurking around? They are literally everywhere. One of them overheard me. And apparently they have vowed a sacred penguin vow that no penguin joke goes unpunished.
As I walked the dog this morning, I spotted creepy penguin eyes, about three pairs, looking at me from behind the bank of the creek bed in the park. When I went to retrieve the empty recycle bins from the driveway, there they were again, looking at me over the top of the neighbor’s privacy fence.
“Penguins see the world in black and white,” said one of the Penguins.
“Except for purple ones,” added the purple one.
“Penguins can talk?” I tried unsuccessfully to ask.
“Penguins only talk in proverbs,” said one of the penguins.
“But the purple one gives the counterpoint,” said the purple one.
“The wisdom of penguins is always cold and harsh,” said one of the penguins.
“Except on days like this when it’s hot,” said the purple one.
“You should always listen to penguins,” said one of the penguins.
“Of course, people will think you are crazy if you do,” said the purple one.
“People who talk to penguins are headed for a nervous breakdown,” said one of the penguins.
“Unless you are a cartoonist. Then it is probably normal behavior,” said the purple one.
“Is this all real?” I tried unsuccessfully to ask.
“Everyone knows that penguins are real,” said one of the penguins.
“But there are no purple penguins in nature,” said the purple one.
So, I sat down to write this post about penguins and their proverbs with a very disturbing thought in my little cartoonist’s head… Why am I really writing about penguins today? I really have nothing profound to say about penguin proverbs. Especially profound penguin proverbs with a counterpoint by a purple penguin. Maybe it is all merely a load of goofy silliness and a waste of my time.
“Writing about penguins is never a waste of time,” said one of the penguins.
“And if you believe that, I have some choice real estate in the Okefenokee Swamp I need to talk to you about,” added the purple one.
As a writer seriously immersed in a particular work in progress, I find myself talking more and more to certain people who exist only in my head. They are the characters in my novel, The Boy… Forever.
The novel is itself an epistolary novel. That means, like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, it is made up of letters, notes, diary and journal entries, and other personal writing of the central characters. It also means that I have to become the different people who write these things. At least while I create each individual artifact that goes into the mosaic of first-person narratives.
Anita Jones, pictured here, is the letter-writer who starts the plot in motion when she gets a very disturbing letter from her cousin, Icarus Jones.
Icarus writes about his problem with becoming a midget, and his response to it being a plan to kill himself. It seems that he simply stopped growing at the age of ten. Now, being a fifteen-year-old in the body of a ten-year-old, he writes a suicide note in the form of a letter, and then goes to jump off a bridge into the Mississippi River. But when he does, he survives. Or, rather, he succeeds, but cannot remain dead. He doesn’t know it, yet, but he has become a human mutation known in the secret world of unknown things as an Immortal.
Icky’s problem becomes worse when it is discovered he is being pursued by another immortal, a sort of vampiric immortal who needs to consume the essence of other immortals to stay alive. He is a three-thousand-year-old Chinese Celestial Dragon who is able to assume a human form.
Neither Icky Jones nor Tian Long the dragon, though, really needs to be in my head. Icarus himself only writes the first and last letters of the book. Tian Long, the villain, does not have a say at all in telling the story. The only part of it he writes are the wizard spells he uses to confound everyone, and most of those are in Chinese.
Besides the letters that Anita Jones writes to her cousin in Dallas, Dot Jones, the story is also advanced in the journal entries of Milt Morgan, one of the leaders of the boys’ gang in rural Iowa known as the Norwall Pirates. He has been asked by the Freshman English teacher to keep a daily journal and write every day in 1976. This he struggles to do, but gains writing and typing skills as he goes along, especially when he befriends Icarus and learns about the dragon pursuing Icky.
Milt is full of imagination and a sense of adventure, a thing that makes him an unreliable narrator, not above embellishing the truth as he writes his not-so-much- daily-as-infrequent journal entries.
The story is also taken up by Brent Clarke, the leader of the Norwall Pirates. Brent wants to be a policeman or a detective or something like that when he grows up. He takes careful investigation notes on everything, and he is the first one to become suspicious of the Chinese man and his step-daughter who pick a house in the town of Norwall that they want to live in right before the actual owner and occupant of the house mysteriously dies in a falling accident. Brent befriends the local Sheriff’s Deputy and sets out on a serious possible murder investigation that yields some very disturbing results. His notes are very detail-oriented and generally fact-based. He carefully records his own eye-witness accounts of everything.
Sherry Cobble, the more outgoing of the identical twins known as the Cobble Sisters, is a happy nudist with a very positive body image for herself and her twin sister. She is a very positive person over-all. She and her sister Shelly had started out keeping a “Lovely Nudist’s Diary” between them, but Shelly is not nearly as interested in writing and storytelling as her sister. So, Sherry takes over the diarist duties with the same sort of glee and enthusiasm she has for promoting nudism to her friends, especially the Norwall Pirates. It is her goal to eventually see all of the kids in Norwall naked and happy just as she and her sister Shelly always are.
Those four different character voices are the main voices I have to work with in telling this fantasy adventure story in much the same way as Stoker tells the story of Dracula.
So, if I begin to seem like I have a disordered mind full of multiple personalities, it’s because I am a novelist, not a mental patient or a vampire or even a Chinese dragon in human form. I am simply trying to tell a story by allowing four distinctly different characters to live inside my head.
You may have looked at the name of my website here on WordPress and wondered, “Why in the heck has that fool Mickey called this thing he writes Catch a Falling Star?”
The answer is, he named it after the first good published novel he wrote at the insistence of the I-Universe Publishing’s marketing adviser. Very poor reason for doing anything, that.
But, the secondary reason is because of where that title came from. Look at the first stanza of this poem by John Donne.
So, now, you are justified in asking, “What nonsense is this? That doesn’t have any coherent meaning, does it?”
And you would be right. These are impossible things that I am being ordered to do by a very religious cleric in the Anglican Church who was originally a Catholic, but, in the time of Henry VIII Catholicism was made illegal, and he wrote this poem about not being able to find an honest woman in his drunken, wasted youth anyway. He is ordering me here to not only “catch a falling star” (and catching a meteorite with your bare hands has rather hot consequences), but also to have sex with a semi-poisonous plant, explain why we can’t go backwards in time, determine whether and why God might’ve given Satan goat feet, listen to probably-nonexistent humanoid creatures singing, find a way to avoid anybody ever looking at me with envy and then doing something to me because of it, and, most importantly, find a place where the wind blows in a way that fills your head with facts that actually makes you smarter.
It is exactly what I wanted to write about. Impossible things actually being accomplished. Finding the meaning behind alien beings from outer space developing an intense love of I Love Lucy television broadcasts and Mickey Mouse Club music. Discovering why intensely shy people need to embrace social nudity. Defining who is actually a werewolf and who is not, uncovering who and what real monsters are. Singing songs so sad that it magically makes people fall in love with you. Talking to clowns in your dreams and getting real answers to the meaning of life, love, and laughter.
Catching falling stars is the stupid idea that this wacky, idiotic little blog is about. It is what I write about constantly. You have to kill me to get me to stop. So, there is your fair warning. Read on at your own peril.