Tag Archives: goofiness

Becoming a Nudist

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I have been to a nudist park and taken all my clothes off one time and one time only so far.  Yesterday was supposed to be visit number two.  On a Saturday there were supposed to be more visitors to meet and get to know… and I mean really get to know.  But it didn’t happen because of weather and poor health.  It rained.  And my blood sugar was a long way from perfect.  In many ways it was a relief not to go.  I was nervous about being with a crowd of naked people.  I was nervous about how to act and where to go, and especially, “What are the most embarrassing mistakes that beginning nudists make?”

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Because I figure I will probably make them.  And will it be extra embarrassing because I am walking around naked?  Probably.

But I do think it is not going to be a mere one-time experience that I will never do again.  I think I am committed to going back, not just because I am supposed to be writing for a nudist website, but because it benefits me health-wise, both physically and mentally.

To be specific, I have visited the Bluebonnet nudist park near Alvord, Texas. It is a beautiful campground and clubhouse facility.  I borrowed pictures from their website to post on this blog and give them a bit of extra advertising.

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Here’s the things that benefited me the most.  I got to meet some of the most welcoming and accepting people you ever want to meet.  They are polite, interesting to talk to, and just as naked and vulnerable as I am.  You can’t get much more socially equal than when you are talking to naked people.

The sunshine was also a very good thing for me.  The problem I have with psoriasis in old age is that the plaques and sores that result are never quite dry enough to heal when you are wearing clothes in the Texas heat.  But in the nude in the midst of nature, I felt cool and dry and hadn’t even a hint of the old itch that made me want to tear my skin off.

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They have a beautiful pool there, which I had all to myself during that first visit.  The picture with people in it is from their website.  It is one of two pools that they have there for weekly water-volleyball.

I didn’t believe it would be so relaxing and fun the first time I went, but I can safely say the feel of it, the sense of accomplishment of it, the feeling of self-acceptance it gives me, was worth all the risk of embarrassment I faced.  It was a stupid thing to do.  But I am not the only idiot drawn to it.  There are actually thousands of nudists in the United States.  There are even more  in Canada too.  I am actually glad I did it.  And though I didn’t make it back there on Saturday as originally planned, I do think I will be doing it again.

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The Ultra-Mad Madness of Don Martin

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Born in 1931 and lasting in this crazy, mixed-up world until the year 2000, Don Martin was a mixy, crazed-up cartoonist for Mad Magazine who would come to be billed as “Mad Magazine’s Maddest Artist.”    His greatest work was done during his Mad years, from 1956 (the year I was born… not a coincidence, I firmly believe) until his retirement in 1988.  And I learned a lot from him by reading his trippy toons in Mad from my childhood until my early teacher-hood.

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His style is uniquely recognizable and easily identifiable.  Nobody cartoons a Foon-man like Don Martin.

The googly eyes are always popped in surprise.  The tongue is often out and twirling.  Knees and elbows always have amazingly knobbly knobs.  Feet have an extra hinge in them that God never thought of when he had Adam on the drawing board.

And then there is the way that Martin uses sound effects.  Yes, cartoons in print don’t make literal sounds, but the incredible series of squeedonks and doinks that Martin uses create a cacophony of craziness in the mind’s ear.

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And there is a certain musicality in the rhyming of the character names he uses.  Fester Bestertester was a common foil for slapstick mayhem, and Fonebone would later stand revealed by his full name, Freenbeen I. Fonebone.

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And, of course, one of his most amazingly adventurous ne’er-do-well slapstick characters was the immeasurable Captain Klutz!

Here, there, and everywhere… on the outside he wears his underwear… it’s the incredible, insteadable, and completely not edible… Captain Klutz!

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If you cannot tell it from this tribute, I deeply love the comic genius who was Don Martin, Mad Magazine’s Maddest Artist.  Like me he was obsessed with nudists and drawing anatomy.  Like me he was not above making up words with ridiculous-sounding syllables.  And like me he was also a purple-furred gorilla in a human suit… wait!  No, he wasn’t, but he did invent Gorilla-Suit Day, where people in gorilla suits might randomly attack you as you go about your daily life, or gorillas in people suits, or… keep your eye on the banana in the following cartoon.

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So, even though I told you about Bruce Timm and Wally Wood and other toon artists long before I got around to telling you about Don Martin, that doesn’t mean I love them more.  Don Martin is wacky after my own heart, and the reason I spent so much time immersed in Mad Magazine back in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.

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DoodleFace!!!

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I drew this face as a doodle while watching an episode of Iron Fist on Netflix.   I don’t think it is anybody in the show I was watching, actor or character or comic book villain, but I can’t help but think that Doodleface is a great name for a Dick Tracy villain.

Of course, a doodle is a drawing done with only half-attention being paid.  I was not ignoring Iron Fist as I drew this.  I did not take time to plan it out with a pencil sketch.  I started drawing the right eye, thinking it w ould probably become a girl’s face.  When I tried to match the first eye with a second, it came out mismatched enough that she morphed into a villain.  Bilateral symmetry equals beauty.  Asymmetry equals comedy goofball or possibly villain.  As I framed the eyes and developed the center of the face down to the chin, the chance to make a Natasha or an Olga Badenov sort of villain dissipated to the point of masculine villainy.  That probably explains the curly hair, since the villain Bakuto in Iron Fist had curly hair.  But curiously, this drawing-while- watching-TV fellow is not Bakuto.  This guy has no beard.  And in the episode I watched, Bakuto had a beard.  And Bakuto also ended the episode with a knife sticking out of his general heart-area, not a good sign for his personal health and wellness, though in a comic book plot… well, who knows?

So, if Doodleface is a Dick Tracy villain, how did he get his name and what is his special thing?  Pruneface was pruney in the face.  Mumbles couldn’t talk so you could understand him.  Flattop had a head that was flat on the top like a table.  So Doodleface is obviously a master of disguise.  He must possess a magic pen acquired in the mysterious Orient in the 1920’s, one that clearly allows him to redraw his features at any given time so he cannot be recognized.  And hopefully, he draws well enough that coppers won’t just take one look and say, “Hey, dat guy over dere has a squiggle drawn all over his mug!  Dat must be Doodleface!!!”  (Of course it has to be three exclamation points because… well, cartoon exaggeration!!!)

And all of this is, of course, evidence that even when I am watching a fairly good show on TV (Iron Fist is not Daredevil or Luke Cage in its levels of amazing Marvel comics goodness) my mind and my drawing hand are both still busy doing their own thing as well.  Doodling is an artsy-fartsy way to kill time and fill up empty spaces.  My entire blog is basically the same in this purpose.  But I am able to use the doodle imperative to create and be creative, to learn and to grow, and possibly make up something worth keeping.

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Cartoonists Trying to Save the World

Back in the 1870’s (you remember it as well as I do, don’t you?) a cartoonist named Thomas Nast basically invented the political cartoon.  Back then, a bloated New York politician and his gang of criminals were busy getting wealthy through corrupt business and government relationships.  Nast used his gift for scribbly-art satire to lampoon the buffoons and make the public laugh at the evil he exposed.  Of course, they knew about the corruption of Boss Tweed before they laughed at the cartoons, but the focus on the problem created by Nast’s magnifying glass focusing the rays of sunlight on the problem is often credited with helping to burn up the scandal.

Cartoonists had power back then.  Power over public opinion.  The power to help fairly uncomplicated (and sometimes stupid) folk to recognize the absurdity of the situation and the need for changing it.

So why haven’t cartoonists fried the Make-America-Great-Again orangutan running the country now with his brand of corpulent corruption already?  Believe me, they are trying.

They have already highlighted the way the Bozo Administration manipulates the focus of the mainstream media.  Every time media coverage begins to converge on one scandal, he creates another big, smelly media poop of a controversy to redirect their focus.

And while he is doing his big shoe dance on the tables in the spotlight, congress is doing his rich friends’ evil will in the back rooms.

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The end result of this malevolent dog-and-pony show is patently obvious.

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Unfortunately, in the 1870’s, the stupid people that Thomas Nast was enlightening had not yet achieved the profound levels of shoot-yourself-in-the-foot stupidity that Trump supporters have now mastered.  Poor and middle-class Republicans, Texans, and other dim folk continue to take the Great Pumpkinhead at his word and believe every utterance of his mouth to be sacred gospel truth.  I have had conservative friends arguing themselves into pretzel-knots to defend his policies and dastardly deeds.

But if cartoonists can’t succeed in shining sunlight on the bloodsucking vampiric old moneybags and kill him soon, his reign will become immortal and we are all gonna die.

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Seriously.  We stand at the end of a long chain of greedy b*st*rds raping and pillaging the environment for profit and not caring about the impact of their actions.  We are dooming the planet to environmental collapse because the orange-faced name-stamper cares more about short-term profits for himself and his friends than he does about whether or no his own grandchildren will have water to drink, air to breath, and a place to live cool enough that metal doesn’t melt in the sunshine.

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So, I hate to be a double-trouble downer about the whole thing, but the truth is if we are depending on cartoonists and humorists to save the world, we are in trouble.  It is not working the way it did in Nast’s day.  Cartoonists are doing their lampooning and doing it well.  But more is needed.  And if we don’t get that something more soon, then (to incorrectly paraphrase and misquote T.S. Eliot), “This is the way the world ends… Not with a whimper but a bang!”

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The Be-Bop Beat of Mickey’s Brain

Truthfully, when I look back at the string of posts in the picket fence of this daily blog, I fail to see the overall map of it in any semblance of pattern or order.  Honestly, I did not set out to be purposefully wacky.

I did, however, set out to be purposefully surreal.  I mean it, I consciously put bizarrely dissimilar things together in an attempt to find parallels and connections  in unlike things because, not only is it funny and surprising, but is a comic act that serves to keep the mind nimble and never numb.  I do think quite a lot.  And I try to see connections between things where others wouldn’t.  For instance, the Coppertone girl with her bare butt and Bullwinkle with his unicycle are both being threatened in a way that is both comic, and taking advantage of their inherent image of innocence.  Neither will lose anything by it.  The girl stands to brown her pale white behind in the sun, while Bullwinkle will probably land on his head and it will make a decent cushion to preserve him because of it’s empty and rubbery qualities.

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Pie makes everything better.  MMMM!  Pie!

I must also admit to a bit of the old telling of stretchers, the misrepresentation of the truth, the loquacious layer-onner of lies.  Not Trumpian lies that land on you like elephants dropping like bombs out of B-52’s.  Little fictions that entertain and elucidate.  It is the most likely reason I keep saying connecting words and phrases like “truthfully” and “honestly” and “I mean it”.  Those are words that liars love.

Yes fiction writers like me tell little white lies.

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I am now past the 40,000 word mark in my latest novel manuscript Recipes for Gingerbread Children.  It is a novel based on real people I have known and loved and listened to.  It is about an old German woman, a survivor of WWII concentration camps, who loves to tell stories to children and bake gingerbread cookies, especially gingerbread men.  It features a pair of teenage nudist girls who believe in going completely naked whenever you are indoors, even if you are in someone else’s house.  It features Nazis, both in flashback and ghostly forms.  It also features fairies from the Hidden Kingdom of Tellosia, a fairy kingdom filled with little three-inch tall magical people living under our very noses.  And it has a werewolf in it, though admittedly a very young one.  It is a comedy with its requisite sad parts, and it is definitely an example of surrealism.  It is also full of lies… err, I mean fiction.

But the real purpose of this supposedly be-bop brain fart in blog-post form is not so much to explain my blog (because how do you explain a blog that goes from Flashbacks and Foobah to telling about Madman Trump to Another novel part… #37 to Centaurs to a book and movie review, to this eccentric and eclectic thing, which probably exists more to make alliteration jokes in the most musical beat I can bang out?) but to prove that I do often think about thinking and how things fit together and what it all means… and how to write a run-on sentence that adds to the effect rather than simply annoys.  And, yeah, I’m doing that.  And it feels like a good thing to do.

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The Boogendorfer

 

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This is not actually a picture of Boogendorf, this is Toonerville where the clocks are wrong and a giant Mickey Mouse lurks in the foothills beyond.

Today I mean to justify my existence before God and everybody.  Apparently in the modern world you have to be certain things in your basic foundation to justify getting travel visas, citizenship, and a basic right to continue to exist unmolested.  We apparently elected a new leader, the Mad King of Boogendorf, to make sure all Boogendorfers are suitably qualified to live in Boogendorf.  So this is a brief photo essay to justify my case for why Boogendorf should accept me as a citizen and not execute me outright.

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First of all, I am not one hundred per cent crazy.  You can tell from this photo, can’t you?

This kooky dorfleflop can’t be any more than 65% crazy because his pin head is not large enough to harbor more than 65 out of every 100 truly derfy and sanity-stealing notions.  (What is a dorfleflop, you say?  Well, dorf is a German word for town, and dorfleflops flop in a dorf and think they belong like everybody else who has flopped there before.)

But using the Mad King of Boogendorf as a measuring stick (an orange measuring stick with an extra-long tie), that is clearly not crazy enough by half.

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What’s the deal with the clocks always being wrong in Boogendorf?

I have always heard it said, “It takes a village to raise a child”.  And I think that saying I heard is probably true.  I was raised by the village of Rowan, Iowa in the 60’s and 70’s.  I learned to draw there.  And I can draw real cartoon human beings.

Of course, one must be careful to note that if you could actually draw real cartoon human beings they would be alive after that, and that would make you like God, able to create life from nothing more than pencil, pen, and paper.  And in Boogendorf there is only room for one God.  That, of course, is the Mad King of Boogendorf.  So I guess that is a disqualifying quality too.

And that saying about a child raised by a village is a saying somehow connected to Hillary Clinton, and Hillary Clinton was defeated (I have also heard disgraced, demoralized, and denounced) in the last election by getting more votes than the Mad King of Boogendorf.  So I am judged lacking by my upbringing too.

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I am also undeniably guilty of playing with dolls.  I mean, I collect them, I comb their hair, dress them in different clothes, take them apart and repair them, and pose them for pictures.  That can’t be normal.  But is it abnormal enough to make me qualified to be a Boogendorfer from the village of Boogendorf?  Maybe if I plated them in gold or something, or had enough money to go to “golden shower” extremes?  I guess I don’t understand how to be Boogendorfy enough to live in Boogendorf.  The “Boo” in Boogendorf proves that you have to be pathologically afraid of things more, just like other Boogendorfers are.   I am sure the average Boogendorfer is afraid of people who play with dolls.  Especially if those weird people don’t own any guns and don’t like to kill stuff.  That just ain’t natural.  You even need to give guns to little girls to make them safe against those evil anti-Boogendorfers.

So, I guess I am doomed to live a life outside of the walls of Boogendorf (and they are really great walls, too).  I should be grateful that the citizens of Boogendorf have only rejected me and not used their sacred second-amendment rights to execute me.  For now, I am simply not a Boogendorfer.

 

 

 

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The Heart of Shakespeare

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Despite my skepticism about the accepted wisdom in regard to the historical William Shakespeare, I do deeply love the body of work that is Shakespeare.  My most favorite play is The Tempest, the final play in the canon.  I also have read and loved As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Henry V, Richard III, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Othello,  and King Lear.  I know that is not all of the plays, but that is probably more than most people have read.  And of course, as an English major in college, and later as a teacher, I have actually analyzed, compared, studied, and taught some of these plays.  So, the Shakespeare I know is the Shakespeare of the writer’s own mind, his communicated wit and wisdom, imagination and intellect.

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And I do not have any disdain or disrespect to give the Stratford guy.  To say that, in the Elizabethan world, the actor son of a tradesman with only a grammar school education could not have been the mind behind the literary masterworks is foolish.  The Stratford guy owned and operated the Globe theater at a time when “the play was the thing”.  All of London society, rich and poor, gloried in the theater, and Shakespeare did for Elizabethan plays what Babe Ruth did for baseball.  He was a good enough business man to make himself a decent fortune.  Although, apparently, this world-shaking author didn’t spend any of his money on owning books, which in my experience is extremely rare among writers.  His life, bound up in an urban existence that never traveled outside of the country also somehow produced great works that were set in places in Europe, especially Italy, that described those settings in accurate detail.  As a working actor, he also apparently had the time to study law and somehow learn the inner workings of the royal courts of more than one country.  And the plots were not original.  He took existing stories that already were a part of European literature and lore and wove them into rich tapestries of human striving, laughable foibles, and a deep understanding of basic human character.  But I do have doubts that the businessman and actor from Stratford was the real writer of the plays.

I have already told you that I don’t believe Sir Francis Bacon was secretly Shakespeare.  Christopher Marlowe wasn’t either.  And I have unsuccessfully made a case against Shakspere, the Stratford guy.  So who could possibly be the real William Shakespeare?  Well, I am not going to be able to make a decent case for him in the 100 words that I have left to end this essay with.  So there has to be more to come.  (And stop screaming obscenities at the computer screen.  I am going to reveal the name before the end of this essay.  And I promise not to make my case for him in coming days too boring and horrible.)  I have to show why I believe that the true heart of Shakespeare could only have beaten within the body of Edward deVere, the Earl of Oxford.

 

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