What Stupid People Think About

Let me begin by reminding you that the only head I have to explore as an example of what I am talking about in this essay is my own stupid head.

So, this is not an insult post. This is self-deprecating humor. And therefore, the contents of your own stupid head are completely safe.

Now, there is considerable evidence in the books already that Mickey is not, and has not been, particularly stupid for a large portion of his time on earth. He got college scholarships based on his ACT and SAT scores to get his undergraduate degree for free (in the 1970’s when it was significantly cheaper than now). And he has been both a teacher in a gifted program and the middle-school coordinator of that same gifted program. So, Mickey has effectively fooled everybody into thinking he is not stupid. But consider for a moment where the laughs come from when watching Stephen Urkel on TV, or the four nerds from Big Bang Theory. Smart people do stupid things and are very awkward at times, proving that, no matter how smart they are, smart people are capable of being quite stupid.

What, then, is the stupid thinking in Mickey’s stupid head?

Well, there are a number of things. Mickey is, as you may know if you read any of his nudity blogs, obsessed with nakedness. He was assaulted as a child in a way that caused him to be afraid of nudity and slow-developing in sexuality. As he grew older, he had to compensate for this lack of natural development. So, he has reached an age where his brain stupidly rejects guard-rails when talking about nudity and sex. He has convinced himself that he wants to be a nudist, and writes about nudity constantly, as evidenced by this very paragraph. When Mark Twain was in his seventies, he did leave the house without remembering to wear clothes more than once. The neighbors did not compliment him for doing that. That and worse is probably in Mickey’s near future.

And sex, as a subject sloshing around in a brain awash with hormones and other nightmare chemical imbalances, leads to a rash of stupid decisions. Of course, Mickey is old and has had chronic prostatitis long enough to eliminate the possibility of making a stupid decision about infidelity since those body parts don’t actually work anymore, but it leads to buying numerous things sold by marketers using sex as a way to sell things. Cabinets full of hair gel and cologne and Herbalife products that can never be used up is the result. And the wife is frustrated with the foods Mickey is constantly addicted to. “Why so much chips and salsa, Mickey?” Chips and salsa? Hubba hubba!

And Mickey’s old brain, full of a vast quantity of useless trivia-type knowledge, random wisdom floating around in a disconnected fashion, and prejudices formed by a bizarre obsession with things like nudism, Disney movies, comic books, model trains, and doll-collecting, becomes strangely creative. He begins to believe weird things.

For example, he thinks rabbits, if they were suddenly transformed into people, would make better people than people ever do. They are mostly quiet most of the time. They eat an all-vegetable, healthy diet. And they don’t vote Republican.

He obsessively also thinks about how his mind is working and how thinking about thinking is likely to improve thinking. He even realizes that the map of his head, provided above, doesn’t accurately reflect the many branching corridors and dead-end hallways of his actually-complicated-yet-stupid mind. He thinks that thinking too much about thinking makes you stupid.

I have illustrated this entire piece without uploading any new art… What a stupid thing is that?

And finally, Mickey is left with a sense of wonder about how it is entirely possible that everybody is stupid at least part of the time. And he wonders what possible things that you, dear reader, are thinking about that you consider at least somewhat stupid? You are welcome to tell him in the comments. But remember, this post is about stupid thoughts in Mickey’s head. You are perfectly free not to worry about your own stupidity.

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Illustrating Your Own Writing

Don’t make the mistake of thinking I have any advice to offer about how to do what I am doing. First of all, I can’t claim to be successful at it. Also, I am doing it all by instinct, not by study and planning. All I am really doing this for is to show you my favorite pictures.

for The Boy… Forever

I basically draw the pictures before I write the story down in paragraphs. The story exists already in my head, and the pictures help it gel in my mind before it comes out in fiction form.

An illustration for AeroQuest 2; Planet of the White Spider
The Baby Werewolf

I particularly enjoy drawing the characters, giving them actual, physical substance so that they exist not only in my stupid old head, but also on the page or on the screen to allow them to be in front of my eyes.

Snow Babies
from Superchicken
From Sing Sad Songs
The Book Cover itself

Being able to illustrate can be a way into producing covers for myself that have as much chance at catching the reader’s eye as anything else that I do.

People tell me that my artwork is enchanting and that they like it.

They are, hopefully, not all lying when they say that.

Magical Miss Morgan
Recipes for Gingerbread Children
The Bicycle-Wheel Genius

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Feel-Bad Friday

Yes, it happens a lot when you are an aging diabetic. I have moved into that time of life when my six incurable diseases are much harder to bear, and can potentially be the last act in my personal play. So, what do I do when these things move in close to take a bite of me? I appreciate my life harder.

I have lived for over six decades now. I was a child when Walt Disney was still alive, and when men first landed on the moon. I experienced a few of the things that make the story of human life on earth a corking good story, well worth the read.

In some ways the study of human history is one of the most insight-inducing things you can do with your life. There are all kinds of things that were done by stupid kings, and suffering and the buffering of suffering done by heroes, and things that were explored, and knowledge uncovered, and people who have lived and loved and laughed. There was once a Joan of Arc, a Groucho and Harpo Marx, a wizard named Isaac Newton, and a Great Clown who may have been Emmett Kelly, or may have been Red Skelton, or even, possibly, Marcel Marceau.

And, what if mankind has already chosen a course of suicide on a planetary scale? The decision was made back in the 1970’s by the fossil fuel industry that short-term profits were more important than preserving our atmosphere and environment. We are now beginning to reap the whirlwind that they sowed back then, threatening to turn this planet into a Venus-like hell of heat and acid rain. Are we all gonna die?

Human beings are highly adaptable, inventive, and fully capable of finding ways to survive. That will probably be tested, but until it is all completely over, we still have a chance.

But everybody dies… eventually. All people have an expiration date. All civilizations, people, creatures, and even planets themselves have a beginning, middle, and end. And just because something is ended, it doesn’t follow that all its existence, meaning, and importance are gone. My Grandma Beyer has been gone for nearly 20 years. And yet, she is still real. I and my children could not exist without her. And that will still be true when all of us are dead.

So, I have to say, all in all, it is worth it. No matter what happens next.

I have never been a better writer, artist, or story-teller than I am right now. This is the culmination of my life, even if it ends tomorrow. I will keep living day-by-day… living… loving… and laughing. Appreciating the opportunity to exist at all. And therein lies the value of my life

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Humor Without Insults

I have decided to use Fridays for writing about teaching and school stuff. So, to start off here is an old and pertinent post.

Catch a Falling Star

20150807_135157

I am not one who can stand to watch Republican debates.  I know the clown car is full to busting, but I can’s stand the idea that one of those narrow-minded, fact-free, duplicitous Bozos could end up being the next president.  (Or fascist dictator, when you consider what “fascist” actually means, and what former President Carter has said about the U.S. not being a democracy any more.)  If one of those clowns wins it, the true power will once again reside with the unseen ring master, like it was with the rodeo-clown George W. Bush and his secret puppet-master, Dick Cheney.  And I pay enough attention to know that Donald Trump was so insulting to women during the debate, that Democrats can pick Beelzebub to run as their candidate and women still won’t vote Republican.

I watched the final Jon Stewart Daily Show instead.  Stewart is more liberal than I…

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Illustration Exaggerations

This will be used for several things. Most importantly it will become a part of the cover I make for my Work In Progress, The Boy… Forever.

The villain of this story claims to be an undead Chinese wizard. It is a claim that may be totally bogus, but it is a part of the idea of his villainy that needs to be illustrated to help me get to the roots of my theme; “No man lives forever. But if they accidentally do, it helps to be secretly a dragon in human form.”

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Living in My Head

Rowan, Iowa is a place full of memories. I was a boy there, from the time I was four and began remembering life until I was 24 and life in the real world moved to distant parts the focus of what I called “Home”.

As my life continues, long past the time I figured I would be allowed to live by my six incurable diseases, I find myself living more and more inside my own head. Truly, my failing physical health has isolated me more and more from the people I know and have relationships with. Instead of spending hours upon hours at work every week, I find myself confined to my bedroom where I maintain breathable air, doing little beyond reading and writing, watching movies and shows on Netflix, dreaming, remembering, and imagining. My “real-world” life has been ever the less active and ever more confined to a small space. But in my head, the opposite is true. I have lived in memory; revisiting places that have been changed or torn down since, and spending time with people whom I still see as children even though they are now grown in real life with children of their own, and spending time talking to people who live no more, anywhere but in my memory.

Some of those to whom I am talking are actually me, fictionalized versions of me, imagined as if something different had happened to me, or I had chosen different roads less traveled than the ones I actually walked upon.

Some are, naturally, people whom I have loved, seen through different colored lenses than I saw them when I saw them with my physical eyes.

And it is most definitely possible to see and re-interpret the things that happened to us in a very different light than the ones I saw it all in during the 1960’s and 1970’s. It helps to be able to put on the old time-traveler’s glasses to look again, not at how it really was, but how it really ought to be.

Everything I have just rambled on about in run-on sentences of purple paisley prose, is writer-thinking. It is the very thing that most probably goes on in your head too, since you are likely only reading this blog post because you are a writer too, and you find value in the ramblings of an old man who used to be a writing teacher and is now, very definitely, one of the goofier varieties of writer whom you can learn significant lessons from (even if only what not to do, because you are not as stupid as I am when it comes to writing).

Many of the things that happen now in my silly, stupid old head happen in places like the planet Mars or on board a star-ship headed to other parts of the Orion Spur of the Sagittarius Spiral Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy.

I often live, as well, in the part of my head that is entirely made-up from galvanized, sauteed, or even moldy pieces of imagination. I live in places like the Mothership of the Telleron Explorers now in orbit around the planet Galtorr Prime. Or Animal Town in the middle of the country of Fantastica where I met my wife, seen here as Mandy Panda from the Pandalore Islands.

Or even in the Willow-Tree Fortress known as Cair Tellos, the Capital of the Fairy Kingdom of Tellosia in Wright County, Iowa.

Living in the world when your body betrays you constantly can be horrible and hard. But living inside your head is easy. And I actually plan to do more of it before the final page is turned in the Book of my Life.

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AeroQuest 2… Canto 37

Canto 37 – Dance of the Two Spiders

      Naylund Smith was dressed in a formal silk jacket with an embroidered Japanese-style phoenix raising its wings across the chest and turning to flaming ashes on the back.  A white chord ran down the left leg of the blue silk pants and ended in an embroidered white spider, the first time Ged was to see the White Spider’s personal logo on anything.

Ged couldn’t help but admire the strong-looking, erect posture of this amazing man.  He wore a gold earring in his left ear; his head was shaved and hairless except for white eyebrows, a white bun at the very back of the head, and a white goatee.  The man’s iron-gray eyes glared like the stare of an eagle.  Only the golden walking stick hinted at any weakness in the man, and he never seemed to lean upon it.

“The web of space is locked in an ever-expanding spiral dance,” said Naylund as ceremonial armor was strapped to Ged’s arms and chest.  “The spiders that move from strand to strand are merely a counterpoint to the great dancing flow of the web itself.  When spiders contend for space on the web, then the dance reaches its most violent and most beautiful point.  I cannot help you with the next few steps of the dance.  The prophecy says that you will be victorious, but no prophecy is ever absolute unless it can be proven to come from God himself.”

“You sound like I am about to have some kind of duel,” said Ged cautiously.  “I thought this was just a welcoming ceremony.”

“It is that.  It is also deadly serious.”

Little Ham Aero Junior was brought to Ged dressed in a milk-white kimono, and an embroidered white spider picked out in light blue covered the heart.  The female attendants left him with Ged.

“I am to stand with you, Ged-sensei,” the boy said.

“Did Frieda teach you to speak so well?” Ged asked the little Nebulon.

“No.  I learned your language long ago by telepathy.”

“Why didn’t you ever teach it to your mother?”

“She hardly ever spoke to me.  I was nothing but a reminder to her of the shame of her servitude.”

“I’m so sorry for you, Junior.”

“Don’t be.  Now I belong to you and you belong to me.  I will stand at your side and die rather than leave you.”

“A very handsome and noble child,” said Naylund.  “He deserves to be treated well by you, Ged.”

“Don’t worry, Naylund-sensei.  I am learning to love my nephew too.”  Ged smiled at Junior.

Naylund motioned to Ged to leave the tent where he had been dressed in armor.  He was now done up in the armor of a Japanese daimyo or feudal lord, a samurai.  He had everything but the demon mask on him.

As Ged, Naylund and Junior stepped out into the arena, 40,000 people cheered.  Ged was stunned to see so many people.  Being a spacer meant being alone more often than with other people.  He’d never in his life been with so many at once.

“Behold!  The so-called White Spider,” said a man across from Ged in the arena.  He gestured with a silver katana sword to Ged and his two companions.  “What do you say that I test this gaijin?  Do you really believe he is the white spider?”

The crowd roared that they did believe.

“Well, we shall see,” said the man, drawing his katana in front of him.

“He will now try to kill you, Ged,” said Naylund.  “If he succeeds, he will kill the boy and me as well.”

“But, wait!” said Ged.  “I am unarmed!”  He sounded panicky.

“According to prophecy,” said Naylund, “that’s not supposed to be a problem.”

“I am the Black Spider,” shouted the man.  Ged noticed his black silk robes bore a red spider-symbol on the chest.  “I will kill you now, Ged Aero!”

The man charged at Ged with lightning speed.  He was obviously martial-arts trained, and knew precisely what to do.  Ged tried to dodge, but the katana came down on his right shoulder in a perfect arc.  Ged’s right arm was neatly severed at the shoulder.

The crowd gasped.  Ged fell to his knees gasping also.  Junior tried to run to him, but Naylund grabbed him and firmly held him.

“Patience, little one.  Ged must pass this test himself.”

Ged’s mind swirled, but fixed on an image from his mind implanted there when Tara helped him return to his rightful form.  His inner eye sharpened and fixed the image with crystal clarity.  Immediately the arm grew back into place.  The crowd was silent with shock.

“So!” said the Black Spider.  “You are a magician!  It will help you not!  I have killed many magicians before you.”

Ged didn’t bother to listen.  Power was surging through him.  He could feel the rightness of each shape as it came to him.

“Tara?” said Junior, amazed at what he saw.  Ged had changed first into the lithe figure of Tara Salongi so that the bulky clothing and armor would fall away.  Then, as the nude female Ged stepped free of the binding clothing, he was already turning into the fearsome raptor dinosaur from Don’t Go Here.

“Try this!” cried the Black Spider as he leaped onto Ged’s scaly back and tried to sever the saurian head.  Ged’s clawed foot nimbly came up and swept the attacker off, as easily as a horse knocks flies off his flanks with a twitching tail.  The other clawed foot found the Black Spider as he hit the ground, the wicked hook slicing into the flesh of his stomach.

The Black Spider wobbled to his feet again, defiant and angry.  His intestines began to droop out of his wound. “Good trick, spider, but I’m not beaten yet!”

Even as the Black Spider was bragging, Ged remembered one other beast he had been forced to kill and eat.  He morphed almost immediately into a Samothracian Shadowcat, one of the most difficult creatures he had ever hunted.  On the colorful planet of Samothrace, with its many xeno-flowers, shadowcats had developed the ability to change color so masterfully; they could practically disappear from view.  As soon as the first paw touched the sand of the arena floor, Ged shimmered and disappeared.

“What?  Where…?” cried the Black Spider, swinging his sword wildly.  Attacks battered him from three sides.  Ged it seemed, had turned into the wind.  It looked like puffs of air were slashing the Black Spider; until finally, the sword fell from his hand and the Black Spider fell dead and thoroughly bloodied.  Ged remained invisible so as not to disgust the crowd as he replenished himself by feeding on the flesh of the enemy.  He also ate his own severed arm before he finally reappeared in his own form.

Naked, he quickly dressed in the samurai armor once again, though not bothering with the many straps and ties.  The crowd was utterly silent, which left Ged wondering what it meant.

Shen Ming approached solemnly, holding two sheathed swords in his hands.

“You have done well, my son.  Take your swords of office.”

Ged humbly received the swords from Shen-sensei.  He bowed.  There was a beautiful silver katana with a white ivory pommel and a smaller golden wakizashi with a blue woven pommel.  The crowd now began to cheer riotously.

“I have defeated the Black Spider?” asked Ged of Naylund.

“You have defeated the first of many Black Spiders, Ged-sama.  We will never be at a loss for villains.”

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