Goodbye Sweet Society

This is a short soliloquy about giving up being a nudist and practicing nudism.

There are many complicated reasons why I have to give up practicing nudism. It certainly isn’t that I have given up on my love for the feeling of walking naked in the dappled sunshine and shade of the cool green forest floor, or swimming nude on a summer’s day with other nude people. (My memory of that revolves around kid friends at Duffy’s Creek and the swimming hole near the railroad bridge.)

But it does involve my malignant melanoma in 1983. My family has long been susceptible to skin cancer. And even slathered with sunscreen, I do have the problem of sun-damage in old age increasing my chances of a relapse.

And it does include the fact that every nudist camp or park is far away from home, and long drives are harder now to do alone. My wife refuses to entertain the possibility of visiting a nudist park, even if she didn’t have to take her own clothes off. That is a religious stance that she simply will not compromise. My children, while they were not opposed to skinny-dipping in the pool when they were young, are embarrassed by the memory of it now that they are all adults themselves. I have no one to share it with.

I used to have the back yard to sit outside under the trees wearing nothing but sunscreen, mosquito repellent, and a sun hat. I liked to read good books that way, and even edit my own books that way. But now the wind blew down a portion of the privacy fence, and public nudity in Texas is a serious offense in a Baptist and Catholic neighborhood.

I am not claiming that I am no longer a nudist. I am certainly still that. But I am now nothing but an indoor, only-in-the-bedroom nudist. And though it stings a little, I have to accept that new reality.

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Stupid Is as Stupid Does

This post is a reprint of the time I set out to become a nudist since I was retired and no longer had to fear what it would do to my career as a teacher.  

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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Goofball Conspiracy and Nuthouse Nonsense

If you read my blog more than just taking the passing flyby notice of the odd Paffooney picture, you may have noticed the fact that I have many unfortunate mental quirks basted in a flavorful sauce of vivid imagination and fatally high intelligence.  I am too smart to live, most of the time, and so my mental quirk about constantly searching conspiracy information is probably a self-destructive attempt to get hold of seriously secret information that will probably get me killed.  But conspiracy theories are dangerous in more than just the paranoid delusional way that somebody like Alex Jones always perceives it.

b780bda0f5dba4d43d764bc35a5bed4c9618662a1fd433ffd9ca3526cd072530Since I already mentioned the Infowars  rage-clown, let me talk a little bit about how Alex Jones is a truly dangerous force crying about sinister suppositories of conspiracy constantly…  I do not follow the man.  His website takes all kinds of conspiracy-type information and puts it through the grinder of his manic-orangutan persona and turns it all into a giant salad of poop and nuts covered in puree of mystery meat.  The truth is sometimes in there, but all mangled and bunged-up.  For instance, he claims that the Sandy Hook shooting of all those innocent children and heroic teachers was a false-flag operation by the government.  He claims that no children were actually killed… the event was staged…  The government is simply trying to turn public opinion against gun owners and wants to threaten Second Amendment rights.  Gene Rosen, one of the people who heroically helped students fleeing from the Newtown shooting, was harassed by phone calls calling him a “government stooge”.  Jones’ true believers are not smart enough to leave things like this alone.  They take it upon themselves to press the matter and rub salt in the wounds.  In fact, some Alex-Jones-true-believer criminal types stole the memorial for Grace McDonnell and Chase Kowalski, two seven-year-olds who died at Sandy Hook Elementary, because they didn’t actually exist… they weren’t actual children… and then they phoned those children’s parents to taunt them… all in the name of Infowars’ version of the truth.

Here is the article I used as the source for my information;  Why Conspiracy Theories Aren’t Harmless Fun

These facts about conspiracy theories and the people involved in them make me physically ill over the fact that I am also a believer in some very prominent conspiracy theories.  But unlike Alex Jones, I don’t pull things out of a Pandora’s box of paranoia and mental cesspools.  I try very hard to site my sources and choose them critically.   I believe that John F. Kennedy was assassinated, not by a lone gunman, and probably not by Lee Harvey Oswald at all.  There was a massive conspiracy.  I have dug into the roots of Oliver Stone’s movie JFK.  I know who Jim Garrison is… who Guy Bannister and Cord Meyer are… I know about the mysterious history of questionable deaths of witnesses to the shooting and where the efforts at cover-up become apparent enough to know that somebody powerful was behind the whole thing.  But, although I think I know who and why… there is not enough evidence to name names and try to prosecute anyone.  Kennedy’s death was an important blow to the architecture of my childhood.  It combined with other terrible things to take away any chance I may have had to grow up innocent and happy.  Pursuing the truth will haunt me for the rest of my days.

And there are other places where I want to believe.  How about aliens?  I wrote a comic novel or two about that.  There is a source of endless comedy and clowns.

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But I am a believer here also.  The thing about Roswell and the numerous flying saucer incidents that have grown into an entire conspiracy subculture is that so much of it can be traced back to ingenuous and credible witnesses.  Many of them not only had nothing to gain from lying, many of them lost their reputations, their careers, and sometimes even their lives because they tried to tell us truthfully what they witnessed.

I promised to back that sort of assertion up, so one of the sources of my belief is the astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon.  Here is a video readily available on YouTube to let you hear it in his own words.

I apologize for dumping my strange obsessions on you simply to feed monsters lurking in my silly, questioning head.  I have to make sense of the world for myself, and I do it here in writing.  I pulled you in with the promise of humor, and while I may have salted this essay with a bit of that, I have basically tried to convince you of my pet conspiracies.  Forgive me.  For as long as I keep blogging (especially when I am trying to do it every day and need things to talk about) I will continue to try these same tricks.  Watch me carefully.  Hold me to a standard of truth that makes me better than Alex Jones.

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The Last Day of May

There comes a time when you stop and realize…

My heroes are now long gone.

No part of my crumbling carcass is working well, and most of it will soon be dust.

My energy is at the lowest of levels, the fuel tank is full of leaks.

My most important work in life is now almost all done and in the past.

So, I now have to take stock of the few tasks still ahead…

I must still be a parent until I am breathing no more.

There are still a few tales, wisdoms, and words that I can still share.

And I must still provide the world with the rest of the love in my heart until it finally stops.

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Stalled and Swimming in Place

I was originally planning to have AeroQuest 4 published by now and AeroQuest 5 well underway as my regular novel-writing segment on Tuesdays. The manuscript for 4 is written and formatted, awaiting only a final edit. And half of 5 is already written. It is only the expanded first part of this manuscript that has yet to be written.

But since finishing the manuscript for 4, all I have managed to do is work on other projects. I have added nothing to it since February.

My Fairy stories have taken over my writing time.

The Education of PoppenSparkle has taken over the Tuesday slot in my supposedly structured blogging week. I am enjoying writing it, yet, it is only happening on Mondays every week. The last-minute nature of that writing style is producing a lot of adrenalin and obsession with deadlines, but it is also draining the creativity out of writing time every other day of the week. I haven’t failed to post something for my daily blog, but even the writing I do get done lacks the luster of older posts.

I need to get back to writing on my main work-in-progress, He Rose on a Golden Wing. That book continues to grow and get more complicated as it marinates in the creative juice of my overly juicy mind.

So, there it is, me writing about something I was not supposed to write about on this Memorial Day. I am not suffering from writer’s block, for I am writing every day. But I am suffering from doldrums with the sailboat of progress not having any wind in my sails. How do I get the wind back? I will find a way.

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Life is Still a Book, an Open Book

This is the updated version of that last post. I have written more books. I have published more books. And I have gotten more people to read and like my work since 2018.

Here is a better idea how things currently stand;

And of course, I left out the book I was using to copy the list from, The Wizard in his Keep.

So, now I stand revealed as the published author, hard-working writer, and total fool that I am.

And here’s a link to the book I forgot. Only a dollar if you’re interested.

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Mickey’s Commencement Speech

Before you go into panic mode, let me clearly state: No college or high school was actually foolish enough to invite Mickey to give the commencement address to its graduates. So, don’t worry about a generation of our youth actually taking to heart the advice Mickey is about to give and ruining our world for the next twenty years. This is just the insane drivel that Mickey would say if some superintendent, principal, or college dean were actually stupid enough to ask.

This is not Mickey. It is either George Applebee, or it is Red Skelton pretending to be George, depending on how literal or gullible your brain is.

The most impressive commencement speech I remember from my life in education was given in 1974 by my favorite high school English teacher, Mr. Sorum. He was a gifted speaker and told a mean joke whenever a joke was needed to make the point.

He talked for forty-five minutes about “Taking the next bite of the hot dog.”

Of course, he was talking about a metaphor where the hot dog was a life of being a good citizen and living in service to the greater good. High school graduation, in this speech, was the first bite of the hot dog. Some of us were listening to what Mr. Sorum was actually saying. My second bite of the hot dog was to get an English degree from Iowa State University. My third bite was a teaching degree from the University of Iowa. The fourth was choosing a life of service by being a public school English teacher. So, I followed his advice.

Most of my class, though, took that speech to mean life was all about eating hot dogs. Was I wrong? Do I need to rethink my life?

This is not Mickey either. This is Boris Karloff in makeup having a cigarette, or possibly being Frankenstein’s monster.

If I am going to give advice to today’s graduates, the advice I would have to give is, “For God’s sakes, don’t choose to be a public school teacher! Do you have any idea how hard that job is for how little reward (practically none of it in money?)”

So, what advice do I have for actually doing something with your life that helps with the common good?

The most important one; “After you go to the bathroom, flush! Gol dangit! And afterwards, wash your danged hands!

You wouldn’t believe what kind of bacteriological nightmares are being placed in your hand daily if you have a job where you are supposed to regularly shake hands.

This is Mickey. Or possibly a two-eyed cyclops giving the world the ultimate stink-eye.

Another key recommendation;; “Stop being so gosh-darned ugly!”

Of course, you know that this is not a matter of whether you have a pretty face or you scare rats in dark rooms. This is a matter of behavior. A matter of how many people you hate and treat with scorn and injustice, as well as who you routinely hate, and why you hate them. Hating anyone for any reason is not good for their health and is even worse for yours.

And a final thought about how to improve the world; “Figure out what and who you love in this world. Everyone needs to have something and someone to love and work at sharing your life energy with.” People need other people and they need a purpose, even if they have to forge that purpose out cardboard, imagination, and thin air.

If, by chance, you can already handle all of these things that idiot Mickey is lecturing you about, especially if these things come naturally to you, then totally ignore that first dumb thing Mickey said. Think seriously about becoming a teacher. What you have we desperately need more of. And with your expertise passed on to others, we might just be able to make more of it.

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Notes From the Archangel Michael

I was born and raised a Methodist.  But I married into the Jehovah’s Witness faith.  Yes, those annoying little people who come knocking at your door offering free Bible studies and wanting to talk to you about the “good news from God’s Word the Bible”.  I was one of them for the better part of 20 years.  And I want to tell you from the outset that I have been guilty of knocking on doors.  I have been threatened to have the dogs sicked on me.  I have been threatened with guns by Winchuks, Hickenloopers, and other rednecks.  Laughingboy Larry, a seventh and eighth grade former student of mine even begged me to come to his door so he could throw a pie in my face.  I requested lemon meringue pie because… mmm, lemon meringue!  Jehovah’s Witnesses are not bad people.  They are real honest-to-God Christians who believe and teach the essential lessons of Christianity, Love and Forgiveness.  Some of the finest people I have ever met are self-sacrificing, hard-working Jehovah’s Witnesses.  I would never speak against them.  But this post has to explain why I no longer am one of them.

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I have always been a reader of the Bible.  I began seriously reading it in my youth when I was a victim of sexual assault and the life-threatening depression that can cause.  A very thoughtful and loving Methodist minister, the father of my best friend, taught me how to use the Bible to seek answers and find comfort.  As a Jehovah’s Witness, I have read the entire Bible cover to cover twice.

But I have also always been a Christian Existentialist, even before I knew what that was.  I believe that existence precedes essence.  There has to be a real, observable rock in front of me before I grant faith in the existence of a rock.  I don’t accept “rock-ness” as something that is real because other people tell me that “rock” exists.  If God is going to be the rock upon which I build my faith, then I have to observe that God is real.  I need proof.  Superstition is acceptance of something without proof.  As far as I can tell, almost all religions… organized religions… are based on superstitions.  “How do you know that Jesus loves me?”  “Because the Bible tells me so.”  “Why must I believe I go to Heaven when I die?”   “Because your father and his father before him believed it.”  “Can I accept these as real reasons… as evidence?”  “Of course not.  These things follow the patterns of superstition.”

“Kill the infidel! Die a hero’s death, and you will be granted 99 virgins in paradise.”  “How do you know this to be true?”  “Allah has told me in a dream.”

So, if you follow any of this (undoubtedly due to the same curse of relentless intelligence that plagues me), you are probably wondering why I don’t just come out and claim to be an atheist like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens?  Well, because I believe in God.  I have seen the proof.  When I talk to God, he answers me.  When I ask him to guide me, he sends signs and leads me to the answers I seek.  He comforts me, even though it is only by helping me to find comfort in my own mind… my own self.  He helps me find the power within me to do what is right and overcome what is wrong.  Why, then, am I not still a Jehovah’s Witness?  Why am I not still knocking on doors?

The truth, as I see it, is… each of us must find God for ourselves.  Each of us must obtain the certainty we seek with our own efforts, or be satisfied with a perpetual state of not knowing all the answers.  Either result is perfectly acceptable.  Jehovah’s Witnesses will tell you that you can’t obtain eternal life unless you believe what they believe, do what they do, and accept everything just as they interpret it from their magic book.  Personally, I believe there is no eternal life.  I am made of star stuff (as Carl Sagan used to say, because science has mathematically proven it is true).  When I die, the configuration of star stuff that is me will simply be no more.  But I have existed.  And my atoms will go through a large number of processes that disperse them and turn them into something else.  My individual consciousness will be disbanded, but the overall consciousness of the universe will remain.  The universe is greater than I am.  In fact, the whole human race could wink out of existence in a massive fireball that consumes planet Earth, and the whole still remains.  I don’t have to worry about any of it.  I am the author of my own story.  I am responsible for its content, both good and bad.  And I am not sorry for any of it.

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Most of the angels used in this post are by William-Adolphe Bouguereau…and one is by me.

Now you know the awful truth.  Mickey is a humanist.  He thinks for himself about everything… even matters of religion.  How horrible!

“Tell me, oh great and powerful, Vishnu, will I be offered 99 virgins in paradise if I kill him for you?”

“No, Singh-Rama O’Malley.  You are simply being stupid and superstitious.  And besides, that particular superstition doesn’t belong to my religion.  You are mixing things up.”

“Oh, sorry, Lord Vishnu.  But is it okay if I don’t kill myself for my error?”

“Singh-Rama, you are a child of the universe… no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here.  And whether or not it is clear to you, the universe is unfolding… as it should.”  (Note; These last words are the words of the poet Max Ehrmann in his wise poem, Desiderata.)

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The Haunted Toy Store… Canto 24

Canto 24 – Girl Talk

Maria found herself limited to riding along in her own naked body as she and Esperanza labored to run back to the hacienda where Imelda lived.

“Do we have to run all the way?” Maria asked in her head.

“We do.  Time is short.  Imelda and your Yesenia are in grave trouble.  But your body is so much better than mine…”

“What do you mean?”

“In life I was a little bit of a gordita.”

“Gordita?”

“Little fat girl.  Not athletic like you.”

“Oh.”

“You know some Spanish.  I can see it in your mind.”

“My mom and my real dad are both Spanish speakers.  But they got divorced when I was four.  And we found my stepdad, Stanley.  He only speaks English, so…”

“So, you got out of practice.”

Maria’s body was panting, wheezing, and gasping for air as it ran.  But that didn’t affect either voice in her head.

“And you were out of practice at running.  Let me control the breathing.”

“Okay.  But that might be against the rules.  Promise you won’t use it against me later?”

“We want the same thing,” she reminded Esperanza.

“We surely do.”

The body fell into the trained running style that Maria used in high school track and cross country.  The breathing became regular and easier by far.

“You are definitely good at running,” Esperanza noted.

They pulled up at the gate to the hacienda.

“¿Por qué corres, Esperanza?” asked the guard at the gate.  Maria knew instantly from Esperanza’s memory that the young man’s name was Juanito, even though he was a rust-colored skeleton dressed in gray ghost clothing that you could see through.

“¿Dónde está Imelda? Necesito hablarle.”

“Ella está en el segundo piso. En su dormitorio, creo.”

“Gracias, Juanito.”

They were instantly running again.  The hacienda would’ve been gorgeous in an expensive and colorful way, Maria thought, if only she weren’t seeing it in black, white, and gray.

Esperanza found Imelda’s bedroom door and banged on it with both fists.

Then the door was opened from the inside.

“Yesenia!”

“Maria, you must not say things out loud using your actual voice!  You must tell it to me and let me speak it!”

“You are breaking the rules!” said Imelda in Yesenia’s voice coming out of Yesenia’s tear-stained face.

Maria was hardly listening to the scolding.  She was at once filled with joy at having found the girl she betrayed.   But at the same time she was jealous of how beautiful Yesenia’s naked form would obviously look to Rogelio.

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More Art Day Role Play

Again I go back to artwork done for Saturday role-playing games, a thing which I started doing in 1981. It filled my life for a time. And it also taught me to be a teacher. After all, the DM (Dungeon Master, or Game Master) has to be a story-teller and a master explainer… just like a school teacher.

A Dungeons and Dragons picture from 1981.
A Shaitan Rider, a villain from 1982.
The Giant Sorcerer’s Hand, a monster from the 2011 family game.
A heroine-ally and her pet werewolf.
The father of mys son’s player character was found at the end of an adventure. He is apparently me with fewer legs.
An enemy necromancer
Two versions of the same weretiger
This unused non-player character would become a novel character in 2019.
Some characters are borrowed directly from TV
Some characters are kept around as potential instant player characters.
A Talislantan librarian from 1992

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