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The Sardonic Solliloquy

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The homeless man wandered onto center stage just as the spotlight went on.  He shaded his old eyes against the brightness and looked outward into the dark  theater.  It was probably some kind of mistake.

“Oh, so now it’s my turn to talk, eh?”

There was no response.

“Well, if you’re expecting something funny to come out of my mouth, good luck with that.  More than half of what I say that makes people laugh is the result of depression, ill health, and just plain ignorant stupidity.  And the other half of it is not meant to be funny, but is because I don’t always understand what I am saying.”

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There was an embarrassed chuckle somewhere in the darkness.

“I mean, you can’t expect too much from me. I’m a bum.  I have no money.  I have no job.  Not having any work to be bothered with is kinda good.  But the other thing kinda sucks.

And all the great comedians that used to stand on this stage and try to save the world through humor are dead now.  It’s true.  Robin Williams died recently.  George Carlin, Bill Hicks, Richard Pryor, and Bill Cosby are all long gone.”

There was some nervous laughter in the theater.

“Oh, I know, Cosby only thinks he’s dead.  But he kinda killed the character delivering the wisdom in the form of observational comedy, didn’t he.”

 

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“But most of them old boys tried to come up here and tell you the truth.  And the truth was so absolutely unexpectedly wacky and way out of bounds that you just had to laugh.  And the more wicked the humor, the more you just laughed.  You didn’t do anything about the problems they talked about.  But you sure did laugh.”

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“It seems like the more they told you the truth and the more you just laughed about it, the more old and bitter they got.  Sardonic?  You know that word?  Not sardines, fools, but sardonic.   Bitterly humorous and sadly funny.  Seems like a lot of them old boys got more and more bitter, more and more depressed up to the end.  More and more sardonic.”

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“I mean,  Carlin was calling you stupid right to your face at the end.  And you just laughed it off.”

The theater had grown eerily silent.

“But it ain’t all bad, is it?  I mean, at least you all can still laugh.  Only smart people get the jokes.  The ones Carlin moaned about were laughing because everybody else was laughing.  Those weren’t the ones we were talking to.  There’s still life out there somewhere.  Maybe intelligent life.  Maybe aliens ain’t located any intelligent life on Earth yet, but they’re still trying, ain’t they?”

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“You shoulda listened more carefully to what they were saying.  Life and love and laughter were bound up in their words.”

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“So I guess what I’m really saying is… just because I happened to get a rare chance to say it to you all… learn to listen better.  The voices are quiet now.  But the words are still there. And laughing at them is still a good thing.  But remember, you need to hear them too.”

The theater suddenly filled with the roar of a standing ovation.  The old man bowed.  And this was ironic because… the theater had always been empty.  No one at all was there now.

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Harrowing Domestic Adventures in Lone Star Land

Yesterday I was not able to write a single word for the first time in years. I had a crippling headache, possibly a fever off and on, and I was too miserable to do anything but toss and turn in bed… with three layers of clothes on. I think I had a sinus infection brewing in my forehead, but with prescription antihistamines, hot chocolate, and lots of bottled water, I got by. My head finally drained and having actually slept last night, I feel better this morning. Although, disturbingly, I did not get better until I turned the space heater off, let it cool, and then turned it back on. Could it have been producing carbon monoxide or possibly methane?

And this, of course, is in the middle of the worst week of freezing temperatures in recorded Texas history.

Five straight days of single-digit low temperatures, rolling power blackouts, and pipes bursting everywhere in the community has plagued Texas with problems our lovely conservative government was totally unprepared for. Of course, we had a similar crisis in February 2011. The power grid was unprotected against cold weather then too. You would think they would take that lesson to heart and be prepared for those same problems a decade later.

But in Texas, the business-friendly political climate deregulates the power industry in ways no other State is allowed to do. We have our own sovereign and sacred power grid, and the geniuses in the power industry have realized that weather-proofing costs money and lowers profit margins. And as a bonus, you can charge extra for electricity when the power available is scarce and the demand is a matter of life and death.

If you see a snow baby in a blizzard, it means somebody will freeze to death. (But these two don’t count. They are just colored-pencil drawings.)

We were relatively lucky so far here in the Dallas suburbs. My family did not lose power for more than fifteen minutes total all week long. Others in the area were not so lucky. Some had power out for multiple days. And we do have a fireplace, though we would have to burn furniture for firewood.

We kept water trickling in every faucet the whole time, so no pipes have broken yet, and we should be okay even when the pipes thaw out.

The only devastation we still face is if our electric bill for this month is through the roof. We have to heat this old house with space heaters, none of which are powerful enough to keep the rooms warm without running on high constantly. I heard of people in Dallas looking at $200,000 electric bills (although I am sure that those rumors are based on raw computer output unmodified by human decisions, so ours will probably be higher.)

So, I didn’t have a chance to write anything yesterday. But I did complete a real-life Snow Babies adventure. And I did not see a single snow ghost made of ice.

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I Hope This Finds You Well

Dear Readers,

I hope you are keeping warm.

This has not been a warm and happy week for most of us.

Texas has experienced electrical outages that have killed some folks and sent others to the emergency room with hypothermia.

Water pipes have frozen and burst around the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, causing damage to homes and water shortages, especially around the Lewisville area (a Northern suburb of Dallas.)

Governor Greg “Evil Overlord” Abbott says it is all the fault of us liberals. He thinks the Green New Deal, wind farms, and solar energy are the root cause of the problem. It can’t be the corrupt practices of energy companies (heavily into fracking for more oil and promoting profits to investors over updating the hardware of the energy grid) that are to blame in any way.

We, at our house, are doing okay, though. A little frostbitten, but fortified with hot chocolate, coffee, and plenty of thick, warm jackets and blankets and things caused by an Iowegian upbringing. We have an advantage of more experience of the cold than shorts-in-winter-wearing average Texans.

We kept the water trickling day and night for two days to keep unprotected pipes from bursting. We placed glue-traps in places we knew rats were using to sneak into the kitchen at night, and we caught two so far that the dog has been unable to get while they are trying to live entirely indoors due to weather. And we were wise enough to wait for the internet outages to be over to create our WordPress posts.

So, we are doing fine in Texas, despite all the challenges.

I hope you are well. I hope you stay well.

Sincerely from the part of North Texas turning itself into Minnesota,

That Rabbit-Man, Mickey

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 128

Canto 128 – Vegetable Worries

Ged, worried about the kids, carried Sara to her bunk aboard the Super Rooster.  She was conscious, but still in shock from being stripped naked and nearly beheaded by a big green thistle-guy.

“She’s the healer,” said Junior.  “What do we do if she can’t heal herself?”

“Give her time.  She’ll be back to herself before you know it,” said Naylund-sensei who was, after all, her father.

“We have got to do something to help this planet,” said Ged.  “This is a seriously bad dictatorship.”

“Now, how do you know that, no longer than you have spent exploring this new world?” Naylund asked calmly.

“ThroCKpods are iNvaders!” interjected Luigi the Onion-guy through one of Gyro’s stink-translators.

“See, what I mean?  Fascist weeds have taken over the plant world, and they are ruling through violence and fear.”

“Ged, that’s how you see it from a human point of view.”

“Naylund, I saw rule by bullies at its worst back on Questor when I was a boy.”

“Again, you are looking at it from the side of human beings.”

Ged looked at Carrot Mabutu and Luigi the Onion-guy.

“Gentlemen… er gentlevegetables… can you tell us how your government normally works?”

“Ooh…  We liVe by gARdens plaNt peOple soaKing up suNshine. We giVe all to tHe grAinmaSter, ruLer of all.”

Carrot Mabutu spoke up too.  “NeVer he uSed ThrOCkpods beFore.”

“This Grainmaster is obviously using shock troops to enforce his will upon the people of this planet.  These people should be freed of their tyrant.  Once free, they could become a member of the New Star League.”

Naylund simply shook his head.  Ged was determined to intervene on behalf of the upset little Onion-guy and his walking carrot first mate.

“Look!  Sara is better!” said Junior.

In fact, she was sitting up and smiling at her father and the White Spider.

“Are you healed, daughter?”

“Yes, Daddy.  I am happy to not have sacrificed my living sap to the Throckpods.  But if we’re determined to intervene on this planet, we need a couple of things first.”

“Oh?  What’s that?” Ged asked.

“Well, we definitely need reinforcements now that we know what we are dealing with.  We are at least going to need more White Spider students, if not an army.  And I am sitting here still in my birthday suit.  I would appreciate somebody fetching a kimono from my closet over there in the corner.” Junior swiftly retrieved the requested garment.  Naylund smiled.  And Ged blushed.

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Despicable People

Jamie Raskin’s opening argument made me cry. He told about losing his son to suicidal depression. And then it went from the day after the burial being confronted with the insurrection, which his daughter experienced with him, to her becoming so traumatized she vowed never to come back to the capitol, the site of his life’s work.

And the worst thing about it is… Tresident Prump will probably be acquitted by the spineless and corrupt Senate Republicans.

Of course, Prump is only one member of the Infamous League of Despicable Gentlemen. He didn’t form it. He can’t technically be called their leader. He’s more of a Mr. Hyde-type, the rogue raging monster who destroys even his own side of the battle.

The spiders who wove the web the Despicables live in are the evil arachnids David and Charles Koch. These two Blofeld-like Bond Villains have their roots in the Anti-communist John Birch Society where fear-mongering and racism take a back seat to greed in the car-ride to world domination.

The evil Kochs, one of whom is still alive, are billionaires worth more than $35 billion apiece. They fund the Tea Party with dark money and control parts of both political parties.

The Tea-Party werewolf depicted above is known to us Texans as @&##%!!! Ted Cruz, the secret identity (or possibly newly-possessed body) of the Zodiac Killer.

Mr. Goddawful Ted Cruz is one of those politicians you can’t get rid of even by driving a silver stake through his heart (mostly because the hero with the stake can’t find what Cruz does not have.) He looked the other way when Prump separated refugees from their children, throwing kids in cages and letting some of them die. Of course, he did assign blame for the policy, pointing a crooked claw at Barak Obama, emphasizing the former President’s middle name as he screeched accusations. Lately he has joined in the effort to hand the presidency back to Prump by overturning the election, objecting to the already certified electors in battleground states where Biden has already won. And with help from a Nazi-saluting friend, helped inspire the insurrection.

And this is Josh “Ted’s friend and Hitler admirer” Hawley, Senator from Missouri. He was the first to sign up for insurrection by announcing he would object to the Electoral College voting results, beating even the werewolf to the idea.

There you have it. My idea of what Despicable People truly means. Ordinarily I do not like insult humor. But when you are secretly ruled by a SPECTRE-like organization called The League of Despicable Gentlemen, you have to find happiness somehow. And Prump won’t know what “Despicable” means anyway.

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Losing the Words

This is a picture of me holding the last novel I have written and published. Ironically, it may turn out to be the last novel I will be able to write.

I spent all of this morning and most of the afternoon suffering from high blood sugar and high blood pressure. I am unable to get myself to the doctor and unable to afford a ride in an ambulance. (They cost $1,000+ even if we are only ten blocks from the hospital if you haven’t priced them recently, even with good health insurance.) I am not going to die. But the few words I put here will be the only words I achieve today. These health problems I am suffering from are far too expensive in this country. I still have over a year to go paying off the bankruptcy I incurred for the last pair of health troubles and hospitalizations. And these conditions are, of course, incurable.

I have more things to write about. I just don’t have the time available to call up the words.

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Goofy Squared

Here’s an old post worth reblogging.

Catch a Falling Star

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There are a number of really, really goofy facts about me that I will reveal in today’s post…  No one is trying to blackmail me over these things, believe it or not.  I have no money.  And I have no reputation to protect.  I am nobody.  Just a silly, goofy, loony old nobody.  But I have a few chuckles now and then at my own expense.

Revelation #1; The clown nose in the picture was a souvenir from Cirque du Soleil.  We went to see them in a parking lot in Frisco, Texas.  They had an actual circus tent.  When I was five, I told my parents I wanted to be a clown when I grew up.  Nobody believes me when I say it, but I achieved that goal.  They say, “But you were a school teacher!”

And I say, “How is that different?”

Honestly, I have worn a clown…

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Who Are We Really?

On January 6th, 2021 the angry mob forced their way into the U.S. Capitol. And what did they really prove? I think they proved we, as a people, are not as good as we hoped we were.

To be clear, I don’t say “we” in that second sentence because I approve of anything that mob did. In fact, my sympathies lie more with Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and the members of the “Squad” hiding in the congressional offices in terror of being publicly executed by the more radical elements of MAGA Nation whipped into a killing frenzy by the orange guy with the dead squirrel he uses as a toupee on his head.

I say “we” because we are one people. Even if some of us won’t admit it.

I don’t create pictures like this one to illustrate my writing because I think flag-worshipping blue-eyed, blond-haired people should have all the power and be the “right kind of people. But they are the kind of people I grew up with in Iowa, and I love them too… as well as all other kinds of people.

All people have equal value and should be treated with equal measures of kindness, generosity, and love. But I have no illusions that that point of view is shared by the majority of “We the People.”

Unfortunately, the world we now live in, at least in this country, is dominated by people who don’t see all people as equally valuable. Cruel people rise to the top of the socio-economic pyramid by exploiting others, being greedy, and treating others heartlessly as if they were disposable. And they actively prevent others from reaching the same heights on the pyramid.

Here’s the science behind what I am saying represented by Kohlberg’s published Stages of Moral Development, a theory backed by numerous replicated studies.

Most people top out at the Conventional level at stages 3 or 4.

We need leaders who are from at least the stage 5 level. (stage 6 are leaders like Jesus Christ, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. A high enough level to die for their convictions far too often.)

Right now in the United States we seem to be firmly stuck with leaders in the Pre-Conventional stage 2. (What’s in it for me?)

This, then, is the reason that rich people are travelling long distances during the pandemic to get vaccinated in poor, predominantly-black neighborhoods in Florida. It is also why health insurance companies like Aetna will deny coverage of expensive medical treatments in this country so we can go bankrupt or die rather than having Aetna’s profit margin go downward even a little bit for their investors. And this is why right-wing propaganda mills like Fox News will make fear-excited ordinary people believe Trumpalump actually won the election and they should storm the capitol to hang Mike Pence, behead AOC, and actually murder a Capitol Hill policeman.

I am doing about everything I can do to help this problem by writing this. I am not well enough to protest in the streets with Black Lives Matter. I am not famous enough to make any kind of dent in the problem with my prose. But I am not alone.

Stand with me. Be kind to others more. Be generous where you can be. And love others no matter who they appear to be. A lot of little people doing a lot of little acts of goodness can topple mountains of badness. That’s who we really need to be.

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New Covers for New Plans

Since I finished the essay collection project, Mickey’s Rememberries, I have been squandering my writing time. I have been working on the next AeroQuest novel, trying to finish book four. I have also been preparing other thingies and doing some artwork, all while being weather-crippled and basically non-Covid ill.

Yesterday’s post was merely the cover I worked on all day for the 5th novel in the AeroQuest saga.

I spent enough of all day yesterday working on that cover that I really didn’t get much other writing done.

And I am working on editing projects too. Here is the new cover for a reworking of the already-published novel Stardusters and Space Lizards. It is the very first novel I published on Amazon, which makes it a novel desperately in need of reformatting, revision, editing, and a new cover.

So, there is my list of excuses for why I didn’t write much yesterday and today. Make of it what you will. I hope to make these three books happen in the next few weeks.

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Another New Cover Design

Soon I will be finished with AeroQuest 4. So, I put together the next cover design.

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