Tag Archives: autobiography

Evidence There is a Living God

A humorist does well to remember that you should not joke about religion.  God does have a sense of humor.  But it is a sense of humor backed by the ever-present threat of being struck by lightning.  And among religious types, a sense of humor is about as common as a nudist wandering into the midst of a porcupine convention just as the thistle-pigs begin arguing about whether or not God is actually a porcupine.


On the question of God and whether we actually have one, or whether he’s alive or not, we often turn to philosophers for insight.  Friedrich Nietzsche was a philosopher with a hard to spell name.  People often turn to him for evidence of god and the accompanying God-thoughts.


But it is entirely possible that Nietzsche did not get the absolute last word on the matter.

Nietzsche was a bit of a poozer when it comes to questions about God.  He said that God is dead because the big guy in the sky didn’t seem to be active in the world.  At least, not since Bible times.

And if we are supposed to believe that God Jehovah is real because he’s written down in a magic book that so very many people believe in, then why isn’t god Thor to be believed in anymore?  He’s written down in some very old books too.  And isn’t the story about how Thor almost drank the ocean dry on a bet just as impressive as Jehovah parting the Red Sea for Moses?

But Nietzsche wasn’t a complete and total poozer.  He did have some wonderful things to say along with the klunky and hard-to-understand God stuff he said.


It takes a big mind in a big head to think of making the stars dance just by generating chaos-waves in your big old head.  That’s the kind of big idea that could become a religion of its own… if Nietzsche wasn’t already dead, of course.

But I tend to believe there really is a living God.  My sister posted an old picture of some of the reasons why on Facebook today.


My thing one, thing two, and thing three (in the baby carrier with her feet up) are all the reason I need to believe in miracles.  Thing one was recently promoted to Corporal in the Marines.  Thing Two has applied for a job at Walmart, and thing three will be a sophomore in high school this fall.  Grandma Aldrich is in the middle between thing one and my sister’s girl.  The little blond one on the left is my sister’s kid too.  All of them are miracles in human form.  Grandma Aldrich is gone now.  She died not long after this picture was taken.  But her life resonates through mine, and through me to my children and nieces and nephews also. I would not be me if it wasn’t for her.

So there is proof of a living God.  Everything that exists cannot be erased from existence, even when it disappears from memory.  So we are all eternal.  We  all have touched the stars… at least, in a metaphorical sense.  And our bodies, science has proved, are made of star stuff in a literal sense.  So it is not too much of a stretch to believe we can make the stars dance.

And if my quasi-religious joking around has God thinking about how to apply a good thunderbolt, well, I was making fun of Nietzsche… wasn’t I?


Filed under commentary, family, humor, insight, inspiration, religion, strange and wonderful ideas about life

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.


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;


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

The Many People That Are Me


Yes, I am a wizard.  That is a complicated thing to say.  It is complicated because a wizard has to be a wise man, and wisdom has to begin with the idea that you know practically nothing about anything… but you can find out.  So one version of me has to be my wizard D&D character, the wizard Eli Tragedy.  This is because I know practically nothing about anything… but I am willing to not be stupid and look stuff up before I tell you anything and pretend it is a wise thing to say.

lil mickey

I have been thinking about who I am because I want to re-do my About the Author page.   And that leads to the difficulty of explaining who Mickey actually is.  You see, I am actually lots of different people in my head.  Mickey is the cartoonist, the humorist, the clown.  He is not the every-day me.  He is the goofy and foofy and lovey-to-drawie part of me.  And yes, I know some of those are not real words.  Mickey is like that.  He speaks Mickian Goof Speak.  I have no control over that part of him.  I am not certain where this Mickey-part of my soul originated, but it may be the result of too much TV when I was a kid.

And of course there is the Teacher-Me, Reluctant Rabbit, the person who stood in front of groups of twelve-thirteen-and-fourteen-year-olds for three decades and tap-danced, told stories, stood on my head, and begged them to internalize at least a lesson or two of what I tried to teach them.



And the wizard part of me was just barely wise enough to realize that a teacher can open doors, but you can’t shove a kid through.  They have to take the critical learning step themselves.  They have to want to learn something.  But even though they actually do the learning themselves, they will come back to me in later years saying, “Oh, thank you, you taught me so much!” when really all I did was be a guide on the side and stayed out of their way.

And, of course, there is the Cowboy Me.  I live in Texas.  I was a Belmond Bronco in high school, but I became a Cotulla Cowboy for 24 years of my teaching career.  I ended up as a Naaman Forest Ranger.  I have worn the hat a lot in my life, being as much of a straight shooter as the Shakiest Gun In The West can be, always trying to shoot the six-guns out of the bad guy’s hands rather than shoot people.

So how do I explain a thing like that?  Probably the way I just did it (ironically).  I should use Paffoonies I have created over time and waffle about stupid stuff that might make people laugh when they realize how self-contradictory it is.  And I should say it like I mean it… because I probably do.



Filed under artwork, autobiography, humor, Mickey, Paffooney, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life, Uncategorized

Tippy-Tappy-Tapdance Toes


I have wanted to be a writer since about fourth grade.  I have, in fact, been writing stories and making up lies since that time.  So, truthfully… (and as a liar, I use that word with extreme irony) I have actually been a writer since fourth grade.  A writer writes.  And the longer I fantasize about making money as a writer, the longer I submit myself to the never-ending oxymoronic hell of the writer’s life.  I live for the poetry.  But you can’t eat poetry.  Poetry does not help you live.


As a writer and cartoonist (a word that means a doodling daydreamer of doofy dreams) I go by the name Mickey.  But, of course, I am NOT Mickey Mouse.  My name is Michael.  And the nickname was inspired by Mickey “Himself” McGuire, the rapscallion hero-child that starred in Fontaine Fox’s Toonerville Trolley and inspired Joseph Yule Jr. to rename himself Mickey Rooney for the movies.  Yes, I think that means that my name is not actually Mickey, and neither is anyone else’s.


Mickey Rooney as Mickey “Himself” McGuire

So, you are probably wondering what this essay is actually about.  Or maybe, more accurately, “Why the Hell is Mickey writing this meaningless @#$%&**! today?”  Well, I am facing reality today.  I am a published author.  But as an Indie author, that means I have to work really, really hard at marketing just to break even, and I am not actually ever going to make back the money I have put into being a published author.  Joseph was able to take his tap-dance on to Hollywood and become one of the biggest names in entertainment.  I will take my talent for meaningless nonsense and making up lies and end up going gentle into that good night.

I am on a quest to get another novel published, but not have to pay for the printing myself.   I have been a finalist in two writing competitions, and failed to win both, but have at least the validation that my stories are as good as some of my writing peers who are successful and get their stuff published.  I am going through the doldrums of constant rejection.  And health-wise, I am running out of time as well as out of money.  But do I despair?  Of course not.  Mickey is too stupid to do that.



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Filed under autobiography, battling depression, humor, irony, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

Goodbye Is Bittersweet Played Pianissimo


I have been a band parent since my eldest son entered sixth grade back in 2007.  That has meant putting up with practicing that can sound like a cat who accidentally got his tail caught in a blender, driving to impossibly hard to locate high school auditoriums in time-stoppered backwaters of the DFW metroplex for obscure and inexplicable tootling contests, working at making popcorn in the concession stand to raise money for marching band, and attending football games solely for the privilege of watching the halftime show.  It was hard work.  It is hare-raising (I did NOT misspell that, it created rabbits, and didn’t add a single hair to my floppy mass of gray head-mold).  And I am going to miss it terribly.

Wednesday night was the last concert as a band parent.  My youngest, the Princess, will enter high school next year and will give up being in band for more tech-related training in Turner High School’s engineering program for high school kids.  She is excited about it.  Focus has already shifted.  And I won’t have to pay for another horn lesson again for the rest of my life.  It was a good concert.  They played a medley from West Side Story, Don’t Stop Believing from Journey, and a classical piece conducted by the student teacher working with the Long band program this year.  It was also the last.  Another part of my life which lasted for most of the last decade has come to an end.


Filed under autobiography, classical music, humor, irony, kids, music

The Cowboy Code

When I was a boy playing cowboys and Indians with cap pistols and rubber tomahawks, we all knew that cowboys had a code.  The guy in the white hat always shoots straight.  He knows right from wrong.  He only shoots the bad guy.  He even shoots the gun out of the bad guy’s hand if he can.  Westerns are about right and wrong, good and bad, and the unyieldingly good knights of plains.

And boys believe what they see on TV and in the movie theaters.  People who make television shows never lie, do they?  In fact, Wyatt Earp was based on a real guy who really lived and really shot the bad guys at the gosh-darn real OK Corral.

Daniel Boone was a real guy too.  He faced the opening up of new lands full of deadly dangers.  And when Fess Parker played him in 1964, wearing Davy Crockett’s coonskin hat, he walked the earth like a guardian angel, making everyone safe by the end of the episode.  He even knew which Indians were good and which were bad.  Mingo was always on Daniel’s side.  And when they spoke to each other about the dangers they faced, it was never about killing the people they feared.  It was about doing what is was right, about helping the community at Boonesboro to survive.  Being encouraging… looking forward to a more settled future created by following the cowboy frontier code.

So, I am left wondering what ever happened to the cowboy code?  I listen to Republican presidential candidates talking about dipping bullets in pig’s blood to kill Muslims, and building walls against Mexican immigrants, and why our right to carry assault rifles is sacred, and I wonder what happened.  Didn’t they experience the same education from the television versions of the Great American Mythology?  Didn’t they learn the code too?


I am old enough now to know that cap guns are not real guns and you cannot solve problems by shooting somebody.  But that was never the point of the cowboy code.  We need straight-shooters again in our lives, not to shoot people, but to tell the unvarnished truth.  We need wise people who can tell who are the good Indians and who are the bad   We need them to shoot the weapons out of the bad guys’ hands.  And I know that’s asking for leaders to be larger than life and be more perfect than a man can actually be.  But Daniel Boone was a real man.  Myths and legends start with a fundamental truth.

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Filed under autobiography, commentary, cowboys, humor, insight, philosophy, politics, Uncategorized

The Oubliette

Every Dungeons and Dragons player, especially game masters, know about the oubliette.  In the foundations of towers in the castles of the French you often find a windowless room with the only entrance in the ceiling.  It is a dark hole where you throw captives you want to simply forget.  In fact, the name comes from the word in Middle French, “oublier” which translates to “forget”.  Now, of course, as a former school teacher, I know about oubliettes.  I have been in one more than once.  I have tossed bad kids in there more than once.  But the thing I had to learn about “forget holes” is that there is always a way out.

Eli Tragedy

I had a principal who decided I had betrayed him because he overheard me talking sympathetically to a teacher he had been berating for asking that he discipline students she sent to him for disruptive behavior.  He overheard me saying that he would be more understanding if he tried to manage a class himself once in a while.  For my indiscretion he took away my gifted class and gave me in its place a class composed entirely of students who had been repeatedly sent to him by teachers for being disruptive and unmanageable.  It was a class from hell.  Really… from hell… Satan’s stepson was the first student he put in that class.  I was told I would have to discipline them entirely without help from him.  But as tough as it is teaching twenty dysfunctional learners at once with no outside help, it was do-able.  In fact, I liked some of the kids in that class.  (Hated some too, though, because you can’t always like every kid no matter how crappy they act.)  I didn’t manage to teach them much English.  They all spoke Skuggboy fluently the whole time.  But I did endure.  In fact, when that principal was suddenly jobless two-thirds of the way through the year and replaced by a new principal, I got a chance to get some back.  She overhead Satan’s stepson doing his comic stand-up routine in response to my specific directions and came in to remind him who was in charge in the classroom and who deserved respect.  That reminder lasted for a good fifteen minutes and was a prelude to a parent-principal conference that same afternoon.  I saw his evil smile turned upside down for the first time that school year.


Whenever I put a student in the oubliette (asked them to stand outside the classroom door until I could talk to them about their bad behavior) I never left them there more than five minutes.  I would quickly give the class the directions they needed to continue on their own, and then I would go out to execute the prisoner.  It usually was an explanation of how I wanted them to behave, and then giving them a choice, whether they wanted to go back in and do the right thing, or they wanted to visit the office with a written explanation by me of exactly what they did wrong.  Even though nothing would probably happen to them in the office, they rarely chose that option.

So, there is always a way out… but there are many forms of the oubliette, and no one is immune to being sent there.


Filed under forgiveness, humor, Paffooney, teaching

Talking to Girls

Communicating with a wife is complicated.  In fact, I couldn’t do the whole writer-think thing about that topic without writing a book.  But I can successfully ruminate for about 500 words on the that awkward first encounter, the first time I ever was embarrassed in front of a non-sister girl.


In grade school I met my first crush in kindergarten.  Alicia Stewart was a honey-sweet little brown-haired girl with a bow in her hair.  I was a boy.  I was not allowed to like girls.  Hating them was the only thing that made sense to my friends and I.  But, secretly, I didn’t hate Alicia.  In fact, if I was ever to be doomed to be married when I grew up, I would’ve only accepted that horrible fate if it was with her.  And in my small town school I saw her practically every school day.  In fact, in Miss Malkin’s music class on Tuesdays and Thursdays I sat right next to her in Miss Malkin’s seating chart for six years.

Mike n Blue B&W

In Miss Malkin’s music class we always did musical stuff like listening to classical records, singing songs for the yearly musical review concert (we did the songs from the musical The Music Man one year… you don’t get more musicky than that), and we did square dancing.  Yeah, you heard that right.  Square dancing.  You had to have a girl for a partner.  And one year, Miss Malkin decided it would be cute to have the boys ask the girls to be their partners.  Now, as boys… in top secret boy-conversations, we had generally agreed that if such a problem would ever occur, Alicia Stewart was the only acceptable choice.  We all hated girls.  But we all were secretly in love with Alicia.  She was girl-hating-boy approved.  When I was twelve, there was another girl that was making me uncomfortable too.  Marla Carter was nine when I was twelve.  She had big brown eyes and dimples.  Her face was somehow heart-shaped, and only Alicia could make my palms sweat any worse than she did.  But in top secret boy-conversations it was ruled that she was a booger-eating little girl and totally toxic.  Well, I didn’t totally agree, but I was still subject to all girl-hating directives.

“Okay,” Miss Malkin said, “the boys will now pick their partners… one at a time in alphabetical order.”

My last name began with the letter “B”, but my best friend Mark had a last name starting with “A”.

“I pick Alicia,” Mark said.

My heart sank.  I had my pick of any girl besides Alicia.  Marla was standing about four feet away from me, her hands folded together behind her back, looking at me with those puppy-dog eyes.  My throat was too dry to speak.

“Um, ah… I can’t pick anyone…” I croaked.  “You pick it, I will dance with it.”

“Now, don’t be like that, Michael.  Get on with it!” Miss Malkin commanded.  Everyone loved the music teacher, and so everyone obeyed her.  I had to submit.

I looked at Marla, dug my toe into the floorboards, and said, “I choose my cousin Diane.”

Talking to girls has always been a matter of embarrassment.  The words are always awkward and shaped not by my brain, but by my bowels.  This fact has always been a hindrance to my dealings with the female species, but it has been an unending source of potential for writing  humor.


Filed under autobiography, humor, Paffooney, pen and ink, Uncategorized

New Dawns for 2016


You may recall that one of my obsessive-compulsive collection-addictions is pictures of the dawn sky over eastern Carrollton and Dallas.  So far I have only taken two.  Through Sunday I was still sleeping late with no children to drop off at school.  Just so the numbers match, here is number two;


So, why not three, you say?  Today is Wednesday after all?  Well, I can’t take a picture of the sunrise when it is overcast and threatening cold rain.  We may have our share of clouds on the horizon this year, with El Nino raging to the West and the jet stream dipping down to Mexico to deliver freezing Arctic blasts thanks to climate change.  Does that mean I expect bad things to be coming my way?  Of course I do.  I am old.  I have six incurable diseases, and I have survived cancer once already.  I am closer now to the day I will die than I have ever been in my life.  And now Donald Trump has the technical possibility of being elected President of the United States.  Who says Jehovah God and the Greek goddess of History don’t have bizarre senses of humor?

But despite the ill omens and the badness I anticipate, life is still good and will not be repressed.  I intend to live for all I am worth.  Have I not earned it, being a public school teacher for 31 years?  Have I not earned it by raising three wonderful kids, one of whom serves this country as a US Marine?  Have I not earned it by picking up dog poop in the park four times a day, and sometimes more off the carpet in the house for the last four years?  I believe in savoring what we have been granted, and using the gifts and abilities given to me by God.  That is why I am still blogging every day for the fourteenth month in a row.  And, miracle of miracles, I am not talking to the wind with no one really listening any more.  When I was blogging on Xanga from 2005 to 2007, I only had one or two followers that even read my stuff… and they didn’t tune in every day.  Some of you have started doing more than just looking at the pictures.  I have evidence in the comments that some of you read my posts all the way to the end.  I thought I was the only blogger that did that.  And I had 276 views last week.  349 the week before.  9651 people viewed my blog in 2015.   I have 87 views in just the three days of this week so far.  I can no longer claim to be the best-written blog that nobody ever reads.  I have to compete now with the other writers who write good stuff.  Ooh… I am doomed.  But I intend to enjoy it.  I have at least one novel in the works to be published.  I have another one already published that should be available at least on Amazon until well after I have curled up my toes and went for a final bye-bye.  Bad things are sure to happen.  But for now, the sun is still coming up every morning in my little world.


Filed under humor, pessimism, photo paffoonies, Uncategorized

An Autobiography of Mickey



Last night I watched again Part I of Ken Burns’ Mark Twain.   I think it reminds me of who I am as a writer.  No, I am not being all big-head arrogant and full of myself.  I devoured certain writers as a youth, consumed them whole.  Charles Dickens was my first passion, followed by J.R.R. Tolkien, and then Mark Twain.  Of all of them, Samuel Clemens is the most like me.  He was from the Midwest, born and raised in Missouri along the Mississippi River.  I am from the Midwest, born and raised in Iowa along the Iowa River.  He endured hardship and tragedy as a youth, losing his little brother in a riverboat accident, and he dealt with it by humor.  I endured a sexual assault from an older boy, and dealt with it by… well, you get the picture.  We are alike, him and I.  We both draw upon the place we grew up, the people we have known, and the events of our youth to create stories.


It is a pretty big responsibility to follow in his footsteps, and I will probably never live to see the success and the wealth that came to him.  But I have a responsibility to the people I knew and the time that gave rise to me to tell their story.  I need to build a network of stories that resonate the truth of existence that I have been witness to.  A big responsibility… and I probably will not live up to it.  But I have to try.

Being a writer is somewhat like being cursed.  The words burn inside, needing to get out, needing to be heard.   I have stories that need to be told, and they will be told, even if only to file away in the closet again.  Like Mark Twain, I am good at feeling sorry for myself.  And the Mickey part of me, the writer part of me, is just like Mark Twain, a writer persona, and not the real man himself.  I am simply the container for something that has to exist and has to tell stories.  It is not a bad thing to be.  But the more I get to know it, the more I would not wish the destiny on others.

Forgive how sad and bunglingly boorish this post is.  But sometimes there are thoughts I simply have to think.  And as a writer, I am bound to write down the silly things that I think.


Filed under autobiography, humor, Paffooney, Uncategorized