Tag Archives: foolishness

Rooster Riding

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Do I believe in the little people?  Of course not.  If Tinkerbell depends on me, she is dead meat… or maybe dead fairy dust.

But if they do exist, then they are like the rooster riders in my picture, exploiting the world in the same way the big old slow ones do.  

They are not our inferiors or our superiors.  They are us.  They mirror us and our beliefs, our dreams… our nightmares, and all the things deep within us that could ever possibly go bump in the night.

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Thanks for the Memories, Mr. Disney

This post is going to sound an awful lot like stuff and nonsense, because that is what it primarily is, but it had to be said anyway.    Last night my family took me to see the movie Saving Mr. Banks, a deeply moving biographical story of P.L. Travers, the creator of Mary Poppins, and how she had to be convinced to surrender her beloved character to the movie industry which she so thoroughly detested and distrusted.  It is also about one of my most important literary heroes, Walt Disney, and how he eventually convinced the very eccentric and complicated authoress to allow him to make her beloved character into a memorable movie icon.

“We create our stories to rewrite our own past,” says Disney, trying to tell Mrs. Travers how he understood the way that her Mary Poppins character completed and powerfully regenerated the tragedy of her own father’s dissolution and death.  This is the singular wisdom of Disney.  He took works of literature that I loved and changed them, making them musical, making them happy, and making them into the cartoonish versions of themselves that so many of us have come to cherish from our childhoods.  He transforms history, and he transforms memory, and by doing so, he transforms truth.

Okay, and as silly as those insights are, here’s a sillier one.  In H.P. Lovecraft’s dreamlands, on the shores of the Cerenarian Sea, north of the Mountains of Madness, there roam three clowns.  They are known as the Boz, the Diz, and the Bard, nicknames for Charles Dickens, Walt Disney, and William Shakespeare.  These three clowns, like the three fates of myth, measure and cut the strings of who we are, where we are going, and how we will get there.  They come to Midgard, the Middle Earth to help us know wisdom and folly, the wisdom of fools.

Why have I told you these silly, silly things?  Do I expect you to believe them?  Do I even expect you to read all the way to paragraph four?  Ah, sadly, no…  but I am thinking and recording these thoughts because I believe they are important somehow.  I may yet use them as the basis of a book of my own.  I enjoy a good story because it helps me to do precisely as Mr. Disney has said, I can rewrite my own goofy, silly, pointless past.

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The Current State of My World

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I am busy reinventing myself.  There are things that have to get done.  I have to raise my finances phoenix-like from the abyss I found myself in three years ago after five hospital trips in five years devastated my bank accounts and credit rating at the same time I was forced to retire from my teaching career by health problems.  I went through a debt-reduction program with the advice of a law firm in California that has helped me reconcile 35,000 dollars worth of credit card debt.  I am nearing the end of that painful belt-tightening process, which can be likened to putting a pumpkin in a vice and cranking the handle tighter than you ever believed was possible, and I did not pop the pumpkin.

Health matters are better too.  I am farther away from doom’s ultimate doorway than I was when I retired.  No longer teaching has kept me from getting the four cases of the flu yearly that I had become accustomed to when I was in the germ-filled giant Petri  dish commonly known as a public school classroom.  Lovely Aetna health insurance people decided they would no longer pay for my maintenance medications for diabetes, depression, blood pressure, and cholesterol, so I was forced to cut down and cut out medications.  Ironically, the less I take the meds, the better I feel.  Maybe… just maybe… I am not going to drop dead tomorrow.

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I am stuck indoors quite a lot, because COPD and not using an inhaler and sensitivity to every allergen in Texas makes for a less than wonderful outdoor experience.  So I have taken to reorganizing my library and various vast collections of junk.  I am rereading old and beloved books.  I am playing with my toys more than ever.  I am winning computer baseball games.  I just pitched another perfect game.

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I have been painting the house too, when the weather allows, making the outside of things look a little better too.  The football Cardinals have been winning.  And the Iowa Hawkeyes were perfect up until the narrow loss to Michigan State.  12-1 is still the best they have ever done.

I have recently been able to shave and look a little less Santa-like, though psoriasis is trying to peel my lower face away again, so I will probably be growing my author’s beard and Gandalf hair back again.  And I have completed collections and written up a storm.  My work is not yet complete on this Earth, and there needs to be a new Mickey in town to clean up this cowboy-infested heck-hole where I live my life.

I know this has been a rather goopy-goose of a post, but I am feeling good for a change, and it is hard to do humor about everything going too well.

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Finding Answers with the Right Questions

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Yesterday I burbled purple paisley prose all over the page and, in trying to answer the question “Why do I Blog?”, only managed to come up with a lame sort of “I don’t know.”  but I also referenced Douglas Adams’ answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything which turned out to be 42.   You see, in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy we learn that the Earth is nothing but an alien-designed supercomputer run by highly intelligent mice to find the actual question that goes with that ultimate answer.  Unfortunately, after the planet Earth is destroyed by Vogons to make way for an interstellar bypass, the question is put on hold.  That’s really what I did yesterday.  I put the question on hold.

But today, feeling ill and a little blue, I decided to percolate the old teapot of wisdom one more time to see if I could find an answer in the tea leaves.  I am not a well sort of individual.  As I have posted before, I have six incurable diseases and am a cancer survivor since 1983.  Every day I wake up to a new dawn is a bit of a miracle.  But the sand is running out of the hourglass.  There are things I have to put right, and blogging is a way to do that.

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In this photo Paffooney I am sharing one of my recent miracle sunrises.  6:55 looking East from the Greenbelt in the middle of Carrollton, Texas.  The dog exercises me every morning in order to keep me alive on the off chance that I will drop some bacon on the floor one morning in the near future.  She also uses me to bag up poop so she can stay out of trouble with the city.

Every morning is like that now.  I am retired.  That is a less-painful way of saying “waiting to drop dead”.  I spend a good portion of my day now alone and able to write and think and not do very much else.  So what I write and think has to be the real work that I am doing now to justify the amount of food I eat and air I breathe (and bacon I drop as the dog has just reminded me.)  I have recently finished two novels.  I have a novel waiting to be published, with a contract and everything at a small, but very real publisher.  I have two books already in the marketplace, Catch a Falling Star and Aeroquest.  You can find them and ignore them on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com just like everyone else has been doing.  The books are what I am technically blogging about.  I am blogging by command of I-Universe publishing.  But that’s not really why I am doing it.  There is so much more to it than that.

Here’s the realist’s assessment of my writing… it has become a very expensive and time-consuming hobby that eats up my remaining days like a ravenous wolf.  At the rate I am going, I will not live to see the day when my writing finds wide-spread acceptance.   I have the word of professional editors and other writers that my work is very well-written, and there was a time in my life when I might’ve made a decent living at it like Terry Brooks or R. A. Salvatore.  There was a time when good books found a publisher.  Now, there is the little problem of a world teeming with books all clamoring for notice of their own.  I am generally ignored by the masses.  The local library didn’t even put the gift copy of my book, paid for with my own money, on their shelves.  They didn’t give it back, either.  My time is not yet, and my audience is probably made up of people not born yet.  Maybe they simply don’t exist.

But all those mulched-up and melancholy things I have said about my writing amount to nothing in the face of the question, “why are you still bothering to blog?”  Truthfully, in the past few months I have made myself laugh and made myself cry by writing and telling stories… by mangling metaphors and propagating purple paisley prose… by blogging.  And I really don’t care if no one ever reads my blog full of blather and allusive alliterations.  They exist.  They are real.  And I have offered them to the world.  Why do I blog?  I still don’t have any idea.

first flowers

These are the very first flowers that bloomed in our neighborhood this year that didn’t die a horrible death by freezing.  Sure, they are only common dandelions and many think of them as weeds… but they are also proof that for now the sun continues to shine and possibilities continue to bloom.

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A Maker of Books

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For an awfully long time I have been filling blank pages with junk and goofy stuff and saving it in book form.  I think it began when I was a Junior in high school.  At least, that is the oldest of the homemade books I could find.  I fill these handmade and factory-made blank books with stories, drawings, poems, clipped pictures, nonsense, secrets, shamelessly plagiarized gunk, and anything and everything.  At 58 and one half years of age, I have been doing this insane thing for a very long time and have quite a pile of it.  The above is my Tales of Fantastica, a cartoon journey into my own dreams and personal life.

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I believe, based on physical evidence that the first collected writing I have done is in my Journal, Rage.  It is called that because I named it after a Dylan Thomas poem in which he “raged against the dying of the light” because he was venting on the subject of his father’s death and the dread of living a life without being allowed to really be alive… to really live.  I wanted to write down everything I noticed about being alive… my hopes, my fears, my dreams as fully as I could remember them… and it became, over time, quite ripe and fertile, as stored garbage usually will.  I was able to use it as a source for other stuff.  I have at least nine volumes of this journal composed over a period of twenty-some years… before I started depositing my daily dose of words and interior monologues in other places.

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My old drawing notebook goes all the way back to 5th grade.  I saved almost every drawing and doodle I did as a grade-school-and-middle-school doodler.  It has some of my very first cartoons and bird drawings and monsters that I filled my quiet hours in childhood with instead of doing the homework I was supposed to be doing.

In college, specifically Cow College… Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, I first began putting stories into novel form.  These I kept in binders and neatbooks that I had to illustrate the covers of with my own story-specific logos.

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Here is the first manuscript of Superchicken, the first manuscript that I actually finished and followed all the way through with.

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This book-maker-mania followed me even into the classroom.  I collected classroom drawings from students, either as gifts from them or confiscated from them and put them into the binder I call my Gallery.  This will make an interesting post of its own in the near future.

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And I am still not cured of making my own covers, even though I am now trying to make them into traditionally publlished books.  Here is the cover for Superchicken.

superchick_novelI suppose I will never really be cured of this mental aberration for as long as I still live.  I don’t know what my heirs will do with them when they are finally rid of me once and for all.  But it is all something I don’t regret doing.  And besides, I couldn’t help it.

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Collectible Dolls… err, Action Figures

DSCN5018These two 12″ ACTION FIGURES are Luke Skywalker and Princess Leiah.  They are rare 1978 dolls that are hard to find because they are in a size much larger than other Star Wars figures, and they are from a toy company that no longer exists.  When I bought Luke on E-Bay, he only had the pants and the boots.  I had to buy Leiah stark naked.  The doll didn’t have any clothes on either.  I was able to cobble together some clothing with the help of Barbie and G.I. Joe.  I had to re-braid Leiah’s hair, and, of course, I had no idea how to re-create the Cinnabun ear-muffs Leiah is supposed to wear, so I left it looking as you see it.  I am proud of my ability to find and acquire two such rare dolls, but I am well aware that they are not presently worth diddly-squoot compared to a mint conditioned pair.

And, Dang it!  I didn’t edit the words “doll” and “dolls” in favor of “action figures”, but I am much too lazy to go back and fix that.

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June 18, 2014 · 6:42 pm

Cool Bird

Cool Bird

I found Chilly Willy at a yard sale for 50 cents. He was a perfect rare find for our family stuffed animal collection. He has good taste in reading material too. He had a few bugs nesting in the straw somebody used for stuffing when they refilled him. A little work de-bugged the cool bird. Now he can skate like a pro again. (I’m a St. Louis Blues’ hockey fan, but Chilly predicts the Pittsburgh Penguins will win every year. Since Sidney Crosby showed up, he is very nearly right.)

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April 9, 2014 · 12:45 am

The Harshest Critic

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“If you want to be a successful writer, you need to listen to me.  I am a reader.  You have to please me.”

“Yes, but, you are telling me to cut sixty per cent of everything.”

“Well, it isn’t any good, is it?”

“I like it.”

“That’s why you have to cut it.  These philosophies you write about… I don’t agree with those.  They are just wrong.”

“Not philosophies… themes, ideas, theories.”

“Still, they have to go.  What you are writing about is horse poop.”

“Couldn’t you find anything to like in my entire story?”

“What does it mean to like something?  If you just do what I tell you, people will like what you write.  You don’t need all these stupid metaphors and allusions.  Write simple things.  Acknowledge the hand of God as the creator of everything.”

“People already like what I write.  Not everyone wants to hear religious rants all the time.”

“I’m not saying all the time.  Just enough to be good for people… to be instructive and up-building.”

“I’d rather tell stories just for fun.  I want to write stories that I’d like to read myself.”

“If you do that, then you will be the only one who reads your stories.”

“So you don’t think my story is any good?”

“It’s horse poop.”

“Well, I’m going to write it anyway… the way I want.  If it isn’t any good, then maybe I’m no good.”

“I’m not saying that?  Why do you have to take it that way?”

“Horse poop is a complement?”

“No, but you have to hear constructive criticism and change it.”

“Sixty per cent isn’t constructive.  It’s destructive.”

“Whatever… why did you ask me to read it, anyway?  You never listen to me.”

“You are actually part of me.  Your opinion is supposed to matter. “

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Thanks for the Memories, Mr. Disney

This post is going to sound an awful lot like stuff and nonsense, because that is what it primarily is, but it had to be said anyway.    Last night my family took me to see the movie Saving Mr. Banks, a deeply moving biographical story of P.L. Travers, the creator of Mary Poppins, and how she had to be convinced to surrender her beloved character to the movie industry which she so thoroughly detested and distrusted.  It is also about one of my most important literary heroes, Walt Disney, and how he eventually convinced the very eccentric and complicated authoress to allow him to make her beloved character into a memorable movie icon.

“We create our stories to rewrite our own past,” says Disney, trying to tell Mrs. Travers how he understood the way that her Mary Poppins character completed and powerfully regenerated the tragedy of her own father’s dissolution and death.  This is the singular wisdom of Disney.  He took works of literature that I loved and changed them, making them musical, making them happy, and making them into the cartoonish versions of themselves that so many of us have come to cherish from our childhoods.  He transforms history, and he transforms memory, and by doing so, he transforms truth.

Okay, and as silly as those insights are, here’s a sillier one.  In H.P. Lovecraft’s dreamlands, on the shores of the Cerenarian Sea, north of the Mountains of Madness, there roam three clowns.  They are known as the Boz, the Diz, and the Bard, nicknames for Charles Dickens, Walt Disney, and William Shakespeare.  These three clowns, like the three fates of myth, measure and cut the strings of who we are, where we are going, and how we will get there.  They come to Midgard, the Middle Earth to help us know wisdom and folly, the wisdom of fools.

Why have I told you these silly, silly things?  Do I expect you to believe them?  Do I even expect you to read all the way to paragraph four?  Ah, sadly, no…  but I am thinking and recording these thoughts because I believe they are important somehow.  I may yet use them as the basis of a book of my own.  I enjoy a good story because it helps me to do precisely as Mr. Disney has said, I can rewrite my own goofy, silly, pointless past.

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Jungle Boy

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When I was 12, my favorite novel was Rudyard Kipling’s First Jungle Book.  I loved it.  From page one to the last sentence of the story about the White Seal.  I owned a paperback copy that I still have 45 years later.  I bought it from the school book order form, Scholastic, I think.  I used my allowance money, earned at a nickel a week.  Along with the chapter books I had read previously, The Swiss Family Robinson, the White Stag, and Treasure Island, it guided my view of life.  Every grove and forest in Iowa became the jungle in the summer of 1968.  The windswept fields of corn and soy beans easily transformed into tropical seas.  I imagined pirates, natives, and buried treasures everywhere.  When I found a piece of a brass candlestick with the necessary curved part, which became the cursed Ahnk from The Jungle Book.  Midnight, Grandma Aldrich’s blue-eyed black cat, became my Bagheera.  I traveled with an invisible Baloo.  You know, it was only a year or so before that when I saw the Disney movie.  So, of course, dancing and singing was a part of being a jungle boy.

In the book, unlike the movie, Mowgli was naked in the jungle.  He didn’t wear clothes until the first time he submitted himself to the man village.  He took them off again when he escaped.  I had to try that too.  I went to the BinghamPark woods down by the Iowa River.  I found a tree where I could put my clothes, and I took everything off.  I figured roaming the woods like Mowgli would be great.  Boy, I was a stupid child.  Problem number one struck with my first naked step in the forest.  Dang!  There must not be any twigs or nettles in Mowgli’s jungle.  I tried hopping from place to place, but in minutes I was wearing at least my socks and shoes.  Hanging branches and brambles were a problem, too.  They clutched at me, striping me with welts and scrapes.  Certain parts you just don’t want pricked by a bramble bush.  It was like God suddenly planted those pointed things everywhere.  Okay, shoes and socks and shorts.  Well, then I began to get cold.  Iowa is never very warm even in the height of summer.  I had already defeated the whole naked in the forest thing when I put my shorts back on, so, what the heck!  It just didn’t work like I thought.

I still believed that the ways of the jungle were an essential part of my young life.  I read and reread what the Jungle Book says about the “Law of the Jungle”.  I tried to make sense of it as a credo to live by.  Of course, at twelve we are always among the wisest and all-knowing of God’s creatures.  We can make sense of the world in our own weird little way, and no one will ever be able to sway us from the philosophy we live by, no matter how silly it is.  I still think about my “Jungle Book Period” as an important part of my young life.  There are things about young Mowgli and Jim Hawkins and the Robinsons that formed a significant part of my character.  I would one day make use of those determined and resourceful qualities to stay alive in the classroom jungles of South Texas.  I tried to make others see it.  I shared Kipling and Stevenson with kids and hoped that I could make them learn, as I did, how to be that little boy facing and succeeding against the dangerous jungle around him.

 

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