This is in no way a political post, even though I consider 2016 as a bad year for political reasons. This is an art post. It contains artwork originally posted in 2016 that I haven’t displayed enough since.
The pictures, of course represent at least one from each month of posting in 2016. They are in reverse order, starting with December and going back in time to January.
I was a substitute teacher for seventh graders on Monday. And I experienced a bit of the time-warp sensation that becomes a big part of the lives of old people… especially crazy old coots like me.
My whole-day sub job was definitely happening on the 3rd day of February, 2020. And yet it took me back to 1988, 1996, and 2002 all in the space of three 50-minute periods.
I was visited by three former students from the past. They looked almost the same as I remembered them. They definitely acted exactly the same. And they had exactly the same kind of classroom behavior as they did before. And what was equally confounding, they were all in the seventh grade yet again and in the year 2020, apparently inhabiting new bodies with new names attached and attending school again at Dan F. Long Middle School in Carrollton.
My father is going into hospice care. Parkinson’s disease is winning against him. I am stuck in Texas until the results of my COVID 19 test come back. Needless to say, my heart is broken. I need magic to fix it now. Where do you find that kind of power? This is where I am looking today.
These are acapella songs. No instruments. Only voice. It comes straight from the heart. Out through the mouth and into the ever-present ether. Life may come to an end, but the sound of it continues… never-ending. Even God does not make a song unsung once it has been made real.
I have been watching these videos on my laptop, lying on my sickbed, and crying at the beauty, the truth, and the depths of sadness in my soul. It hurts to lose a parent. My father was born in 1930. In October of this year, his life-song will reach 90 years of age. It hurts now. But songs are never unsung once they finish. In this I find comfort.
I hope you will actually listen to these. I add a lot of music to my posts, and I never notice any reports of someone clicking on the videos. But these musicians; Pentatonix, Home Free, Peter Hollens, and BYU Vocal Point all have that magic… the power to both lift you up towards God and to make you weep for the bittersweet tragedy that is the experience of being alive and knowing… well, that every book has a final chapter, every song has a final note, and every life…
I don’t have to finish that thought, do I? Now is a proper time for sadness, for trepidation, for listening to music like this… and for remembering love. And I am not through crying just yet.
Today I had to go and get myself tested for the virus that threatens us all.
I’m pretty sure if it is a viral or bacterial infection, it is allergy-related and nothing to do with the deadly plague that sits heavily on the world around us. But if you have to consult a doctor about things like this in this particularly grave spot on the road to history, their mandated response is to stick a swab so far up your nose that they can scrape the backside of your brain with it to find out just how twisted and diseased you are (or, depending on how many twists and swirls they give the swab, how crazy and perturbed you are soon to become.)
I will have to wait five to seven days for an answer, positive or negative, and that will delay going to Iowa, if not prevent it completely.
In order to take the torture-test to see if I have or have not the fatal disease, I had to drive to an obscure spot along LBJ Highway, a church it seems, so I was fully drained and tired before taking the nose-mining test of horror. Number Two son was with me to keep me alive, but he could not drive because Progressive wants to further bankrupt us rather than let him drive one of our two vehicles. He is in an age group where, it seems, all the other drivers let him down, rather than allow his own maturity and experience to set the price.
So, this post is quick and complain-y because I am now too sick to write something happy about today. And I must wait for five to seven business days for the license to continue living, or the death sentence the positive test will ultimately probably be.
At least the nurses that stuck swabs up my nostril are promising to pray for me.
Yesterday my 89-year-old father went into the hospital. He suffers from Parkinson’s Disease and a heart no longer strong enough to keep his blood pressure up. Apparently yesterday he lost the ability, possibly only temporarily, to recognize my mother.
This is not a good time to lose my father. There is never a good time, but now my health is failing. I had to make deals with relatives to get someone to drive me up to Iowa for the annual visit to the family farm during the pandemic which is now spiraling out of control in Texas. My wife and I are both diabetics and at risk. If we accidentally take COVID 19 up to Iowa, I could wipe out all four of us. And I developed a cough and chest pain overnight. At least now I can make a case for getting a COVID test.
I know a post like this goes against the rules for a good blog post. It is entirely too personal and self-focused. But it is necessary sometimes to confess your fears before you confront them. I have had my father and mother in my life for the entirety of my 64 years. They have both lived good, long, and fruitful lives. And a time for passing comes to us all. I have been far luckier in holding back the night than the vast majority of people. But the only immortality we can ever hope to have is through passing on the small part of the universal story that belongs only to each of us individually. “I am a child of the universe. No less than the trees and the stars, I have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to me (And at this moment… it is not) the universe is unfolding… as it should” – a paraphrase from Desiderata.
In 1927 in the mythical land of Austria, where they seem to know how to make candy… a condensed form of peppermint was created in a lozenge form and then placed into a plastic toy dispenser. The spells that were cast to make this magical item probably had nothing to do with toad warts and bat wings and eye of newt. It has more to do with Mickey Mouse, then Katzenjammer Kids, and Marvel Super Heroes. I have been caught under the spells of a PEZ fixation since childhood. I remember begging for a Bugs Bunny dispenser in Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines when I was probably six years old. My parents wisely said no hundreds of times when I was a kid. Who wanted to spend a nickel on a penny’s worth of candy? Just for a Pez dispenser. If they ever caved to my begging, even once…
My family took me to the movies last night. We went to see Jurrassic World. We went to the local hometown theater in Belmond, a place that I first went to movies at in the 1960’s for I don’t remember what… well, I’m old… you can’t always remember early childhood when your old brain is clogged with fermenting memories and nostalgia on steroids. I saw Battle for the Planet of the Apes here. I saw Tarzan and the Valley of Gold here. Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Gnome-Mobile, The Love Bug… Disney movies, Christmas movies, musicals, cartoons, westerns… science fiction… This was an important feature of my Midwestern Iowegian childhood. I watched all kinds of movies here, and they were all the best movies I have ever seen. Even the really bad ones. Even Harum Scarum with Elvis Presley. I…
Much of my colored pencil ability came from drawing Dungeons and Dragons characters. I created this as a logo for my sister’s archery club, but it owes more to D & D and LOTR than to any commercial art. The tricky part was getting the bow and the elf’s form right. Movie elves are for the most part not real archers. So I tried very hard to get this elf to shoot the bow correctly in front of a green moon.
Admit it, you’ve been expecting a post about the Black Wizard. Haven’t you? Or is it just crazy old Mickey thinking he represents the other shoe that needs to drop? Well, I do get kinda goofy talking about Dungeons and Dragons, don’t I?
The Black Wizard had a name that the player characters eventually learned… but I have stupidly forgotten what it was. So, I merely refer to him by the name they knew him by for most of the game. He was a personal nemesis to two of the player character wizards. He is shown here kidnapping Balin, the young son of the wizard LeRoy, my brother’s fifteenth level wizard. He also faced off against Asduel, the Sorcerer played by young Fernie the flunkie who was in my eighth grade English class for two consecutive years. Neither one could defeat him by themselves, and they never played in the…
Meet Xandu, the Beholder… I can’t say he’s a bad guy, but only because he’s a giant floating head full of eyes, and doesn’t have the proper parts to be considered a guy.
Those of us who were nutty about playing Dungeons and Dragons in the 1980’s hear the phrase, “Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder” and we’re automatically thinking weird thoughts about Xandu, and maybe even questioning, “Which eye do you mean?”
Beholders have one big eye, and a lot of little ones equipped with death lasers, gazes of perpetual sleep, nausea looks, and fear-eyes that make you run away in terror. With that kind of surreal right-brain crapola going on in my stupid old dungeon master’s head, it’s no wonder I might go into this discussion of the Beholder with monsters on the brain when I really intended to talk all along about this particular beholder;