Tag Archives: autobiography

Who Am I?

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“Who am I?” the Walrus said,

“I have to know before I’m dead.

And if the Cosmos will not say,

I’ll ask again another day.”

“You are a simple Disney clone,”

Said Cosmos when we were alone.

“You draw and color with your brain,

And tell some stories despite the strain.”

class Miss Mcover

“You taught a while in the Monkey House,

And learned that students like to grouse,

But in the end will love your class

And will give you medals made of brass.”

Alandiel

“And your poems are filled with Angel words,

Both quite profound and yet absurd,

Because your mind soars far away

On winds of wild romantic play.”

“I guess that I can live with that,”

Said Walrus as he grew quite fat.

“And Mickey is the name I write

To sign my pictures in the light.

And that is all I have to say

To write myself in the crazy way.”

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Filed under humor, Paffooney, poetry, Uncategorized

I Go Pogo!

I gave you fair warning.  Pogo has been coming to Mickey’s Catch a Falling Star Blog for a while now.  So, if you intended to avoid it, TOO BAD!  You are here now in Okefenokee Swamp with Pogo and the gang, and subject to Mickey’s blog post about Walt Kelly and his creations.

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Walt Kelly began his cartoon hall-of-fame career in 1936 at Walt Disney Studios.  If you watch the credits in Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Dumbo, you will see Walt listed as an animator and Disney artist.  In fact, he had almost as much influence on the Disney graphic style as Disney had on him.  He resigned in 1941 to work at Dell Comics where he did projects like the Our Gang comics that you see Mickey smirking at here, the Uncle Wiggly comics, Raggedy Ann and Andy comics, and his very own creations like Pogo, which would go on to a life of its own in syndicated comics.  He did not return to work at Disney, but always credited Disney with giving him the cartoon education he would need to reach the stratosphere.

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Walt Kelly's Earth Day comic

Walt Kelly’s Earth Day comic

Pogo is an alternate universe that is uniquely Walt Kelly’s own.  It expresses a wry philosophy and satirical overview of our society that is desperately needed in this time of destructive conservative politics and deniers of science and good sense.

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maxriffner.com

Pogo himself is an every-man character that we are supposed to identify with the most.  He is not the driver of plots and doings in the swamp, rather the victim and unfortunate experiencer of those unexpectable things. Life in Okefenokee is a long series of random events to make life mostly miserable but always interesting if approached with the right amount of Pogo-ism.

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And Pogo was always filled with cute and cuddly as well as ridiculous.

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As a boy, I depended on the comic section of the Sunday paper to make sense of the world for me.  If I turned out slightly skewed and warped in certain ways, it is owing to the education I myself was given by Pogo, Lil Abner, Dagwood Bumstead, and all the other wizards from the Sunday funnies.  There was, of course, probably no bigger influence on my art than the influence of Walt Kelly.

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So what more can I say about Walt Kelly?  I haven’t yet reached the daily goal of 500 words.  And yet, the best way to conclude is to let Walt speak for himself through the beautiful art of Pogo.

Pogo and Mamzelle

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Things You Probably Ought to Know about Mickey

As Mickey’s go, the one who is writing this is a moderately interesting example of the breed.  Still, there are things you probably ought to be made aware of.  A sort of precautionary thing…

First of all, this particular Mickey is an Iowegian.  That means he comes from Iowa, the State where the tall corn grows.  It is a prime reason why his jokes are corny and his ears have been popped (oh, and he does actually have two, unlike the picture Paffooney where only one is showing).  His fur is not actually purple.  If anything now, it is mostly silver-gray.  But the Paffooney is a magical portrait, and purple is the color of magic.  He has a goofy, and sometimes fatal grin.  You may not be able to prove that he has ever actually grinned someone to death, but it is likely he could always dig somebody up.

Another irrefutable fact about this Mickey, unlike many many Mickeys, is that he used to actually be a public school teacher.  He taught the little buggers for thirty-one years, plus two years as a substitute teacher.  He did twenty-four of those years in middle school… twenty-three of those in one school in South Texas.  His mostly Hispanic students managed to teach him every bad word in Spanglish… err, Texican… err, Tex-Mex… or is it Taco Bell?  Anyway, they taught him every bad word except for the word for cooties… you know, piojos.  He learned that word from an old girl friend.

A despicable thing about him… (you know despicable, right?  It’s that word that Sylvester the cat always uses) is that he actually likes kids.  That’s just not normal for someone who teaches them.  Teachers are supposed to hate kids, aren’t they?  But he never did.  It is true that he yelled at them sometimes, but he never did that because he hated them.  He did that only for fun.  And he actually apologized to kids sometimes when they got into behavioral trouble, because he said it was the teacher’s fault if kids are bad, and, besides, the kids are so surprised by that, that they forget all about the behavior and can be flammoozled into acting good.

The last and most wicked thing you need to know about Mickey is that he cartoons up a storm sometimes.  He loves to draw everything that is wacky and weird.  He has more goofball colored pencil tricks than a Charles Shultz and a Dr. Seuss rolled together in a sticky lump with a George Herriman stuck on top in place of a cherry.  He steals ideas and techniques from other artists and steals jokes from comedians, undertakers, and random juvenile delinquents.  He also puts together lists of wacky oddball details that don’t quite fit together and weaves it into purple paisley prose (somewhere in this whole messy blog thing he has also defined purple paisley prose and how to make it… in case you were curious.)

So there you have it.  The Truth about Mickey.  The sordid, simpering, solitary facts about Mickey.  The straight poop.  (wait a minnit!  How did poop get there?  Not again!  I thought I had cured that!)

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Weirdie Poetry

Mr. R RabbitThe Man Who Had Bird Knees

I once knew a man…

Who had knees…

That bent backwards, like a bird’s…

And this man…

Could only walk…

Like a limping, lame old duck.

The children all laughed…

And pointed at him…

When he passed them in the park…

And it made him smile…

And laugh to himself…

That his handicap made them happy.

Every single night…

He oiled his weary knees…

And tried to fight the pain…

And every single day…

He used his silly legs…

To do the Chicken Dance for kids.

And then there came a day…

When the bird legs came no more…

To be noticed by kids at the park…

And the parents all learned…

That the poor man had died…

And the whole world brought him flowers.

The next day in Heaven…

St. Peter saw a man…

Whose knees bent backwards like a bird’s…

And all of Heaven laughed…

As he did the Chicken Dance…

While angels clapped in Heaven.

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The thing I find to be most witlessly true about both poetry and life is that things can be funny, and make you laugh, and at the same time make you cry on the inside.  Humor is hard to write because it can be both happy and sad at the same exact moment.  How do you define that quality?  The bitter-sweet nature of nature?  That’s saying it in a way that is both contradictory and odd.  It can give you a wry smile at the same moment it both confounds and confuses you.  So better just to shrug your shoulders and tell yourself you know it when you see it… and this either is or isn’t it.  Sorry if I made you think too hard, cause I know that sometimes thinking hurts.

Mickey at the Wishing Well of Souls

I found a country well, and I thought I had a quarter,

But I fished in pockets hard, and found nothing for the warter,

And since I had to warp a line to make the poem rhyme,

I figured I would just look in, because I had the time.

I looked into the warty water which sat there still and deep,

And could not see the bottom, and I began to weep.

The water was clear and dark and black,

And the only thing I saw… was Mickey looking back.

And nothing of the wishing well, its magic could I see,

For only there just staring back, the secret thing was me.

Kops

I apologize for inflicting poetry on you when you probably came here looking for goofy stuff to laugh at.  But my poetry is just like all my word-mangling and picture-crayoning.  It tends to be goofy and weird and walking a tightrope over a shark tank between chuckle-inducing and tear-jerking.  You probably can’t even tell which is the poetry and which are the burbled brain-farts of commentary that pad this thing out to five hundred words.  Four hundred and ninety six, actually.

mANDY

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Devotion in Motion

How long have I been a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals?  Since Bob Gibson and the World Series victories of the 60’s.  When will it end?  I have to know if there is baseball in Heaven before I can tell you.  And I believe there is.

970012_598081996889896_1749856650_nA true baseball fan never abandons the team he or she loves.  They live and breathe and die with the team.  In the 1960’s I got to experience my Cardinals win the World Series against the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.  I got to experience the defeat in seven games by the Detroit Tigers and Mickey Lolich their star pitcher in 1968.  And I followed them mostly by the sports page in the Mason City Globe Gazette.  And sometimes second hand when I listened to the Twins’ games on radio with Great Grandpa Milo Raymond.  I followed the individual players and their numbers.  Curt Flood, the center fielder was a vacuum cleaner with legs in center field.  Lou Brock could steal a base, though he was even more amazing at it in the 1970’s with veteran savvy and know-how on his side.  Gibson was extraordinary as pitcher.  And I followed the others too.  Dal Maxvill at short stop, Tim McCarver at catcher.  Mike Shannon at third.  And a fading Roger Maris in right field, having never reached the heights again as the Yankee slugger who hit 61 home runs in 1961. 1010493_520267051372821_2054131685_n

I watched and waited in the 1970’s, when I could follow them on television at least occasionally.  I didn’t get more World Series victories that decade, but I listened to the ball game on radio when Bob Gibson pitched his no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  I was giddy about the base stealing record that Lou Brock set in the 70’s, later to be eclipsed by Ricky Henderson.  I followed Ted Simmons, the catcher, and Joe Torre the third baseman.

The 1980’s brought more World Series with victory in 1981 over the Milwaukee Brewers, and losses against the Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins.  I invented some new cuss words the night the Royals came from behind to win the sixth game of the series because an umpire blew the call at first base that would’ve given the Cardinals the series win.  That bad call (the runner was clearly out at first) changed the series from a Cardinals’ win in six games to a Royals’ victory in seven games.

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In the late 1990’s I cheered for Mark McGwire to break Roger Maris’ single season home run record.  I watched on TV as he did it, holding my young son in my lap and cheering loudly enough to scare all the cockroaches out of the house in South Texas.  It burned me later that the steroids scandals and Barry Bonds would later tarnish that moment.  But I lived it never-the-less, and it was a highlight of my life as a Cardinals’ fan.

62722_574692719263587_14180130_n378194_10151001599341840_1087304628_nAnd now, this year, as everything is going wrong in my life and my body is breaking down more often than my car does, the Cardinals are surging again.  They could win a hundred games this year.  They could win World Series number twelve.  We have history, this team and I.  And I am a devoted fan.  I can no more explain my love of the team to you than any baseball fan anywhere could ever explain to you why they love baseball.  Or what the heck Fredbird is all about.  12032015_547957218694150_5911281379869985407_nBut there it is.  We don’t wait til next year.  Not the Cardinals.

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Jun 9, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols (5) reacts at home plate after he hit a solo home run during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jun 9, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols (5) reacts at home plate after he hit a solo home run during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Albert Pujols will always be a Cardinal in my mind.  We won it all in 2011.

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My Mother’s Dolls

Tom Sawyer without the straw hat, as created by Lois Beyer

Tom Sawyer without the straw hat, as created by Lois Beyer

You may already know about my doll-collecting mania.  You may have already called the mental health people to come take care of the problem, and they just haven’t arrived at my door yet with the white coat that has the extra long sleeves.  But you may not know that my mother is a doll-maker and has something to do with my doll-collecting hoarding disorder.

In the early 1990’s my mother and I put our money together and bought a kiln while we were visiting my sister’s family out in California.  It wasn’t the most expensive model, but it wasn’t the cheapest, either.  We both had enough experience with ceramics that we didn’t want to buy a burning box that was merely going to blow our porcelain projects to kingdom come.  Mother had doll-making friends in Texas who taught her about firing greenware and glazing and porcelain paint and all the other arcane stuff you have to know to make expensive hand-made dolls.  Now, honestly, at the start we could’ve made some money at it selling to seriously ill doll collectors and other kooks, but we were not willing to part with our early art, and by the time we were ready to do more than just have an expensive hobby, everyone who would’ve paid money for the product was making their own.  So dreams of commercial success were supplanted by the hobbyist’s mania that made more and more charming little things to occasionally display at the county fair.

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The two dolls I have left to share on my blog from that era were both crafted by my mother.  She lovingly fired the porcelain body parts, painted the faces by hand, and created the wardrobe on her Singer sewing machine.  I made some dolls too, but never with the wondrous craft and care that made my mother’s dolls beyond compare.

Tom Sawyer was originally a boy doll who was supposed to be able to hold a model train in his hands.  My mother had the pattern for the little engineer’s uniform and hat that she would use on another doll instead.  He is named after the Tom Sawyer clothing pattern that my mother bought and sewed together to dress him in.  He has a cloth and stuffing body underneath his clothes together with porcelain head, hands, and bare feet.

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The other doll I have left to brag unctuously about is a doll named Nicole after the niece my wife and I have whom this doll bares a striking resemblance to.  She displays a beautiful little girl’s sun dress with quilted accent colors that my mother sewed from scratch with the help of a pattern she was truly fond of and used more than once.

These dolls were gifts to my wife and I, presented shortly after my mother bought out my share of the kiln when she retired and moved back to the frosty land of the Iowegians.  I haven’t kept them as thoroughly dusted and cobweb-free as they deserve because I have been a somewhat lazy and slovenly son… but I do love them almost as much as (and sometimes more depending on recent behavior) my own children.  (After all, porcelain kids rarely make a mess, overspend allowances, or hog the television too much.)

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Being and Artistry

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Being an artist is a matter of genetics, luck, and loads of practice.  I began drawing when I was only four or five years old.  I drew skulls and skeletons, crocodiles and deer on everything.  My kindergarten and first grade teachers were constantly gritting their teeth over the marked-up margins of every workbook and worksheet.  I drew and colored on everything.  I eventually got rather good, drawing in pencil, crayon, ink, and as you see here, colored pencil.  I loved to draw the people and things around me.  I also drew the things of my imagination.  I drew my best girl, Alicia, and I drew the half-cobra half-man that lived in the secret cavern under our house.  I drew a picture of the house across the underpass from Grandma Mary’s house.  I drew cardinals, and I drew Snoopy cartoons.  I drew my sports heroes in football and hockey, Donny Anderson and Gordie Howe.  I drew monsters with fangs and fuzzy animals with huge soulful eyes.  I still draw and it’s mostly the same things that I drew when I was a child.  I will post more of the drawings here in the near future to dazzle you with my talents and ridiculous sense of the absurd.

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Paffoonies Still Working

This is actually a writer’s literary site meant to promote novels, and one day possibly earn money from writing instead of simply filling my closets with prose and old manuscripts (along with the wife’s many, many shoes).  But since I am also an amateur artist of the irradiated subspecies known as “cartoonist”, I also have many visuals to share.  I think in pictures as often as I think in words.  So one of the features of this blog is that I tag artwork with a made-up word I coined myself.  It allows the curious (or those immune to nightmares) to get an almost instant idea of how afflicted I am with cartoon-ism.

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Yes, I tested it out.  If you do a picture search on Google using the words “Beyer Paffooney” you get a free gallery of my artwork, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  You might even find my picture of Clint Eastwood… but beware, he shoots first if you try to “make his day”.  If you are brave… or foolish enough to try it, it should come up something like this;

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So, there you have it.  A cheap and easy 200-word post from a bad idea that’s still out there working.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, cartoony Paffooney, goofiness, Paffooney, Paffooney cartoony, Paffooney Posts

Retirement Sinks In…

There comes a time in every career when the career is over and it has to end.  I spent 310 years teaching in Middle School and High School and loved every minute of it.  (Okay, divide the years by ten and subtract about twelve thousand minutes from the love… but I did love it.)  And I was good at it.  (At least, in my own confused little mind… I have photographic proof that I did help students get some quality sleep time in, but… hey, English is supposed to be boring.)

wonderful teaching

Eight years ago I was forced to make the decision to leave the job I loved.  Failing health and failing finances made it increasingly hard to do the job.  I was never a sit-behind-the-desk teacher.  I had to do the dance… up this row, down that one… lean over the spit-wad shooter before he could adequately aim and pull the stray cafeteria straw out of his mouth… suggest the verb needs to have an “s” on it if the subject of the sentence the student just wrote for me is singular…  stand in front of the boy who can’t listen to my wonderful teaching because the girl across the room is wearing a dress and I have to block his view… and he doesn’t even like that girl, but she’s wearing a dress… you can see her legs… and he’s a teenager… you know, the dance of teaching.  When you walk with a cane and have a back brace on every single work day, the dance becomes harder and harder as the year wears on.  I got to spend my days with Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut and Maya Angelou and Robert Frost… and even more important I got to spend my days with Pablo and Sofie and Ruben and Rita and Keith…  I had so many more favorite students than I ever had those black-banes-of-a-teacher’s-existence kids that other teachers were always talking about in the faculty lounge.  (I rarely hung out in the faculty lounge because they tended to talk bad about kids I really loved and enjoyed teaching… and besides, I had crap to actually do before the next class came in.  Lounging was rarely an option.)

I confess that I have spent a good deal of this school year depressed and feeling sorry for myself.  No kids to talk to on a daily basis except my own, and even with them, only after school or work.  My wife is still teaching… so I rarely see her.  (Am I married?  I need to double-check.)  I fill the lonely hours with writing and story-telling and recollections of days past… and I am beginning to come to terms with my loss.  In retirement I can do more of the things that I always wanted to do… but never had time for.  I can draw and paint and write and sing (pray hard I don’t start posting videos of me singing!) and play with my toys… I have even decided to write a novel about people playing with toys.  Would I ever teach again if suddenly I was healthy and could do it again…?  YOU BETTER BELIEVE I WOULD!  In fact, I was able to be a substitute teacher again from the Fall of 2019 to the start of the pandemic in 2020.  IF ONLY IT COULD’VE LASTED A LITTLE BIT LONGER!

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Hoarding Disorder

Pinkie PieI am writing this post today to celebrate two things.  My doctor’s visit today not only came back with positive post-op results (no cancer cells  in the cyst), but it was free.  And while I waited at Walmart for my prescription to be filled at the pharmacy, I found the two Equestria Girls that finish my collection.  I spent the co-pay (that I didn’t have to pay) on Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy (I made that rhyme without a try!)  Yay me!

But I have also come to the sobering realization that my collecting mania may actually be a form of mental illness.  After all, my daughter is now 20 and not really interested in My Little Pony any longer.  That excuse no longer flies.  My wife has lost interest in collecting also (although she still collects clothes and shoes with a gusto that shames Imelda Marcos.)

So why do I do this collecting thing so relentlessly?  Is it a serious mental disorder?  As always I turned to the internet to diagnose myself with life-threatening conditions based on one, or possibly  two symptoms.   I may be doomed.  What I found was an explanation of Hoarding Disorder.

Yes, I inherited it from Grandma Beyer.  She hoarded all sorts of stuff in her little house in Mason City, Iowa.  In her basement, when they cleaned out the house, she still had wrapping paper from Christmases in the 1930’s.  It was in stacks. neatly folded and ready to be re-used.  According to the Psychology Today website article about extreme collecting, one of the first signs of the disorder is the inability to part with personal possessions no matter their actual value.  Never in all the years we spent Christmases together did I ever notice Grandma re-using wrapping paper.  She actually kept that stuff for the memories they invoked and the sentimental value they held for her.  My mother ended up throwing out all that wrapping paper when the house was sold.

Another indicator is the extreme cluttering of the home, to the point of rendering living spaces unlivable.  One glance at the upstairs hallway sends shivers down my weak little hoarder’s spine.

Toyman's Hallway

There are any number of things that might concern a psychiatrist in this hallway.  Of course, the blocked door in the back is where the old non-working air-conditioner is stashed, so there is no room in there for stuffing more stuff.  This picture reveals that I have a vast collection of collections… not merely one.  I collect stuffed toys, HO model railroad stuff and trains, Pez dispensers, stamps, coins, comic books (in the boxes in the back corner under the stuffed toys), and books… gobs, and gobs, and gobs of books!  (“Gobs” is Iowegian for “lots”, not “sailors”.)  In fact, the door on the left is actually the door to the library.

A quick scan of Toonerville along the tops of the bookshelves reveals the full extent of my madness.  Here you see HO-sized buildings, most of which I painted myself or built from kits.  You also see the Pez dispensers that suck money out of my pockets at $1.50 a shot. Downtown Toonerville Downtown Toonerville2My trains have been around for many years.  I shared that obsession with my father (Grandma Beyer’s eldest son) when I was a boy and most of these trains were either gifts from him, or purchased with allowance.  (I haven’t bought anything new in seven years.)

Pez Supers Pez Toons

So, the evidence makes it clear.  One day soon I will be locked up somewhere in a padded room.  I hope, at least, that my children still like me well enough to sneak in Pez dispensers when they come to visit.

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